The TTS Apprentice 100 | Transport Training Services

The TTS Apprentice 100 – Meeting the Increasing Demand for a Skilled Workforce

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  • Apprenticeships
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  • Motor
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  • Transport
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January 2020

Transport Training Services (TTS) has launched its 2019 apprenticeship recruitment campaign and is aiming to exceed last year’s figure by recruiting 100 new apprentices.  The apprenticeships will start on or before September 2019 and will supply the industry with talented young people in a variety of apprentice job roles – light and heavy vehicle technicians, body repair and vehicle refinish technicians, motorcycle repair technicians, tyre technicians as well as aftersales and parts advisors.  TTS will also be further developing its driving goods vehicles apprenticeship, as well as offering a new traffic office apprenticeship for those who wish to embark on a career in traffic planning and logistics.

“These are exciting times for TTS as we aim to build upon last year’s record recruitment of over 85 new apprentices who entered the motor vehicle and transport sectors in September 2018”, says CEO Martin Hutchinson.  “These recruits have quickly become productive in their new job roles. This can only be good news for employers who are faced with skills shortages in a number of areas.”

According to a skills shortage report published by the Freight Transport Association in November last year, over half of all large good vehicle drivers in the UK are age 45+ (56%) and the report estimates that there is a shortfall of large good vehicle drivers of 35,000.  The shortage of technicians is more difficult to quantify but there is significant anecdotal evidence from local employers that this is a huge issue. The most recent Employer Skills Survey (2017) published by the Department for Education, which interviewed 87,430 employers across the UK (3,973 of which were in NI) highlights that around two in every five vacancies for roles classed as “Skilled Trades” were “proving hard to fill for skills related reasons”.  Vehicle technicians, mechanics and electricians came second on the list of specific job roles that account for the largest proportion of all Skilled Trades skill-shortage vacancies, giving a strong indication of the challenges employers face.

TTS offers both employers and young people an efficient and robust assessment and job matching service so that ‘job-ready’ applicants can be quickly matched to ‘live’ vacancies.  Robert Deignan, Careers Development Officer at TTS, is actively building partnerships with schools and promoting motor vehicle careers at jobs fairs and other community outreach events.  This activity has stimulated a significant number of apprentice applications from school leavers and young people interested in kick-starting their career. Each applicant is assessed at TTS using a range of bespoke diagnostic tests.  Suitable prospects are then connected directly to employers for further assessment, work trials and final interviews. As Robert explains, “The diagnostic assessment tool is a good indicator of an applicant’s ability in literacy, numeracy, mechanical aptitude and cognitive reasoning.  Individual assessment ensures that only suitable prospects are put forward to employers for consideration.”

TTS has well-established business partnerships with the main employers in the transport and motor sectors in Northern Ireland.  Current partners on the ApprenticeshipsNI* programme include a variety of franchise brands such as BMW, Mercedes, Ford, VW, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Renault, Kia, Hyundai and Fiat.  TTS train apprentices for Charles Hurst Group, The Agnew Group, Donnelly Group and TrustFord, and at the heavy vehicle end of the industry TTS partner employers include Dennison Commercials (Volvo), Road Trucks (Scania), TBF Thompson (DAF), NI Trucks (Iveco) and Diamond Trucks (Renault).  TTS also helps recruit and train motivated, job-ready young people who are keen to begin their journey in the industry for smaller independent employers and family businesses throughout Northern Ireland.  

Dominic Kelly, Training Manager for Charles Hurst Group had this to say: 

“Last year TTS helped us to recruit six aftersales advisor apprentices and four technician apprentices for our franchise dealerships in Belfast and Newtownabbey.  The aftersales role is new and is our way of providing an exciting career path for young people entering the motor industry”.  

Isobel Allison, Group HR Manager for NI Trucks added: 

 “We have worked closely with TTS in apprenticeship recruitment and training for a number of years.  TTS provide initial filtering and testing of applicants for our depots in Mallusk and Portadown and this ensures that we get the right young people into the company.  TTS technical trainers also visit our workplace on a regular basis to assess apprentice competence on the job”.  

The Ballymena-based Wrights Group enjoys a close working relationship with TTS for the delivery of its vehicle body and paint apprenticeship, a partnership that has been fostered over a number of years with proven results.  John Lynham, Wrights Group Academy Manager, is highly impressed with TTS’s service level:

“As a global business we instinctively know that TTS will deliver highly skilled individuals at the end of the training programme who consistently add value and quality to our paint and finish process.  TTS assist with all stages of the apprenticeship journey from recruitment right through to graduation, and they have exceptional facilities that enable our apprentices to learn, grow and develop – without doubt, all of the learners’ needs are catered for.  Their “block training” approach rather than day release is perfect for the learner and the business. We are delighted to have TTS as our training partner, and we are always impressed by every member of the TTS team with which we have contact”.

From its purpose-built, modern facility at Nutts Corner Business Park, TTS currently provides training on a ‘block release’ basis for more than 200 employed apprentices.  Each apprentice attends the training centre one week every two months for a blend of workshop practical tasks, classroom theory and e-learning. After three years they are fully qualified in their chosen vocational area with Institute of Motor Industry (IMI) Level 3 technical qualifications. Moreover, they are fully productive and ready to make an even greater contribution towards meeting the needs of the business.  Due to the recent growth in demand, TTS is currently recruiting an additional technical trainer and investing over £100,000 in modern equipment for training.

TTS has a strong pastoral element to its programmes to ensure young people are progressing well in their development and integrating well into their place of employment.

David Fullerton, Apprentice at AIR Commercial Services in Ballymena commented: 

“I could have gone on to university after completing my A-Levels, but I decided on an apprenticeship and I’m really glad I chose this path.  I’ll be completing a Level 3 apprenticeship in heavy vehicle repair this summer and I’m looking forward to a successful career in the industry”.  

Matthew Mount, Apprentice at Wrights Accident Repair Centre in Dromore agreed:

 “I joined TTS in 2016 and have just completed my apprenticeship in car body repair at Wrights Accident Repair Centre in Dromore.  I’ve really enjoyed the experience and have now got IMI Level 2 and 3 qualifications through TTS which will serve me well in my future career.  I have secured full-time employment at Wrights and I’ll be happy to stay in the job for many years to come”.  

TTS is interested in hearing from young people aged 16-25 who are keen to embark on a career in the motor or transport industries and take advantage of the opportunities being provided by employers throughout Northern Ireland. Equally the business is keen to speak to local employers who would be interested in helping young people to ‘join the TTS 100’ in 2019. 

*ApprenticeshipsNI is funded by the Department for the Economy (DFE) and the European Social Fund (ESF) and is available to young people between the ages of 18 and 25. 


Reader enquiries: Martin Hutchinson, CEO, TTS or Robert Deignan, Careers Development Officer, TTS Tel: 028 9082 5653 or email:

Editorial enquiries: Laura Reeve Tel: 07813 019 475 or email:

Notes for Editors

Transport Training Services

Transport Training Services (TTS) is a social enterprise which focuses solely on apprenticeships and career development training specifically for the retail motor trade and transport industry in Northern Ireland.  TTS is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Transport Training Board for Northern Ireland. Backed by over 25 years’ experience TTS is a leading, recognised transport training service provider.

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