A vehicle refinish technician apprenticeship is a training scheme that leads to a career in painting vehicles. Depending on where you work, you could be working on motorcycles, cars, vans, trucks, buses or trailers.
The day-to-day role of a vehicle refinish technician is to prepare, spray paint and finish vehicles, generally after a collision or other accident.
Vehicle refinishing can include everything from spray painting vehicle components or bodywork panels to full vehicle resprays in scenarios where major damage has occurred or when renovating older vehicles to bring them up to a more modern or aesthetically pleasing standard. This job involves masking, sanding and other surface preparation methods; paint composition, mixing and colour matching; spray painting and other finishing techniques, such as using primers, base coats and lacquers; and using modern drying/curing techniques.
The Vehicle Refinish (Paint) Technician Apprenticeship Programme Covers:
According to the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) an apprenticeship is “a work-based training programme that provides the learner with practical skills through on-the-job training combined with theoretical knowledge through off-the-job learning”.
A TTS apprenticeship is a three-year employment opportunity for young people which provides paid work experience and nationally recognised qualifications.
Transport Training Services is a social enterprise focusing on apprenticeships and career development training specifically for the retail motor trade and transport industry in Northern Ireland. Backed by over 50 years’ experience as a leading, recognised transport training service provider, our advice is sought after and trusted around the UK and Ireland. As a wholly owned subsidiary of the registered charity, Transport Training Board for Northern Ireland, TTS has a genuine, longstanding interest in promoting apprenticeships to young people in Northern Ireland to secure the future workforce of these sectors. We aim to support local employers to fill skills shortages that currently exist within the labour market.
You must understand from the outset that, by accepting an apprentice, you are making at least a three-year commitment to employ him/her. There is also an expectation that you will retain the apprentice post-qualification. In our experience, it is rare for an employer to let an apprentice go after the three years, because when an apprentice becomes fully qualified this is when he/she become most valuable to an employer.
TTS offers more than 10 different types of apprenticeship in Northern Ireland, all in the motor or transport industry. You can search our apprenticeship courses here to find out more about each. If you would like to know more or have any questions about your suitability you can contact Robert Deignan, our Careers Development Officer, who can help you pick the right apprenticeship Robert’s contact details.
We offer a range of apprenticeships related to the motor and transport industries. In the motor industry we offer apprenticeships in technical roles and customer service.
Our full list of motor industry apprenticeships include:
We offer a range of apprenticeships related to the motor and transport industries. In the transport industry we provide apprenticeships in technical roles, professional driving and customer service.
Our full list of transport industry apprenticeships include
While many apprenticeship candidates are able to find their own employer, others use our matching service that brings potential new recruits together with employers that have suitable vacancies.
If you are fortunate enough to have a pre-existing connection to an employer that is seeking an apprentice, we can help to set up the apprenticeship to support both you and the employer. If it not an employer that we have worked with before, we will need to carry out some basic quality checks, such as the employer’s workshop facilities, insurance and health and safety procedures.
At TTS we really want to support those that show an ability and/or ambition to have a career in the automotive or transport industry. While we cannot promise that we will be able to match you with an employer, we have a large network of contacts that we can put you in touch with. We work with a range of vehicle manufacturers and local companies that employ apprentices that we can signpost you to and we can help you with CV writing and interview preparation to give you the best chance at securing a position.
All TTS apprentices are on the payroll of their apprentice employer for the duration of the apprenticeship. Being employed from day one generally means there is greater investment from the employer to make the apprenticeship successful.
The apprentice minimum wage, which is set by the government and which changes at least every April, depends on:
The apprentice minimum wage in 2019 varies between £3.90 per hour and £7.70 per hour.
|Age||Year of Apprenticeship||Per Hour Minimum Rate|
|19-20||Year 2 onwards||£6.15|
|21-24||Year 2 onwards||£7.70|
For those aged under 19 or those aged 19 or over who are in the first year of their apprenticeship, the minimum apprentice rate applies (£3.90). If you are 19 or older, and have completed your first year of your apprenticeship, the National Minimum Wage applies for your age group.
You can find out more about apprenticeship wages at Gov.uk
Whilst these are the minimum wages set by the government, TTS apprentices are employed by a local company in the motor/transport industry from day one and many of these employers choose to pay more than the minimum legal standard. Certain types of apprenticeships also tend to command a higher rate. It is important to keep sight of the long-term goal when entering into an apprenticeship though. Transport and motor industry technical and driving professions are in high demand and offer excellent career prospects What career progression can I expect post-qualification?
TTS apprenticeships are funded by the Department for the Economy and therefore our apprentices must be between 16 and 24 years old (inclusive) when they start their apprenticeship. This means you must start the apprenticeship before your 25th birthday.
Employers will generally show preference for candidates with GCSE passes (grade C or above) including Maths, English and ICT. This is because each role in the motor or transport industry will require these skills in everyday life. For example, a bus driver will inevitably need to take payments from customers (using Maths skills), someone working in a customer service role will need to be able to communicate articulately with customers via email (using English skills) and technicians work with English, Maths and ICT on a daily basis when, for example, reading and interpreting manufacturer technical data, calculating gear ratios and wheel alignment angles, or when carrying out vehicle diagnostics using computers.
If you do not have the required GCSE qualifications, these subjects must be covered under “Essential Skills” classes which you would take alongside your other learning. The advantage of taking Essential Skills via TTS alongside your chosen apprenticeship course is that we try to teach these classes putting the learning in the context of the job you are training to do. This can help you to understand the importance of the subjects because there is more relevance to your chosen career path.
Whilst it is important to have some qualifications to set you off on a good grounding, the biggest asset you can bring to an apprenticeship is enthusiasm. Having an interest in your chosen career is a must.
As part of the application process, each TTS apprenticeship applicant will be assessed using a range of diagnostic tests, including:
If you are applying for a driving apprenticeship, you have a better chance of becoming an employed apprentice if you have a full and clean car driving licence.
All TTS apprenticeships provide nationally recognised qualifications. In technical or customer service roles the awarding body is the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) and for driving apprenticeships the qualification is awarded by Pearson. All successfully completed TTS apprenticeships result in an Advanced Level 3 Apprenticeship (with Intermediate Level 2 achieved along the way).
Most of our apprenticeship qualifications are recognised around the world, meaning you will not be restricted to working in the UK in the future.
Where you do not have Maths, English and ICT GCSE at grade C or above before commencing your apprenticeship, you will also be enrolled in “Essential Skills” classes and will achieve Communication Level 2, Numeracy Level 2 and ICT Level 1 by the end of your apprenticeship.
Aside from the recognised qualifications you will also gain a number of valuable practical skills throughout your training.
Unlike some other apprenticeship providers, you will work for your employer and attend TTS classes all year round. Most employer work experience is five days per week (Monday to Friday), with attendance at TTS in Nutts Corner being approximately one week every two months for training. At TTS, we find this ‘block release’ model to be beneficial compared with other schemes that operate on a weekly day release for college training, because you can get more done in five consecutive days than in five individual days. In our experience, employers also prefer the block release model because they find it easier to plan your workload.
Each apprentice attends our training centre for a unique blend of workshop practical tasks, classroom theory and e-learning. At TTS you will receive a minimum of 50% workshop practical training. Hours of attendance at TTS are 9am to 4pm (Monday-Thursday) and 9am to 3pm (Friday).
TTS normally starts new apprentices in September, mainly because this fits into the typical school-leaver schedule. The best time to look for an apprenticeship, therefore, is between January and June prior to the September that you wish to commence. Some employers start recruiting as early as Spring so the earlier you apply the more opportunities you will be able to be considered for.
Having said that, we often have demand from employers throughout the year for new apprentices, which we can accommodate because our apprenticeships are modular. This means you could start the apprenticeship later in the term and simply complete the modules in a different order, if we have sufficient numbers for a full class of late starters or spaces to fill on existing classes.
To complete both Level 2 and Level 3 apprenticeships with TTS it will take three years to qualify.
Please note, TTS does not offer Level 2 on its own. At TTS we do not consider our apprentices fully qualified until they have completed Level 3, since this is the expectation of any employer.
There are no certainties in life and so much is down to the skill and commitment of us all as individuals. However, there are currently significant skill shortages within technical and driving roles in the motor and transport industries, both in Northern Ireland and further afield. Currently there are not enough qualified technicians and professional drivers to meet the demand, which is good news for qualified people because it means there is a high likelihood of job security.
In terms of career progression there are many opportunities for qualified and experienced transport and motor industry professionals. Some advancement opportunities are as follows:
Career Progression in Technical Roles:
Career Progression in Customer Service Roles:
Career Progression in Driving Roles:
Also, because most TTS apprenticeships provide you with qualifications that are recognised all over the world, you could have the opportunity to live and work abroad after your qualify or later in life.
Any career which demands a high level of training and competence will be rewarded with a professional salary to reflect the hard work and effort undertaken to become qualified, and of course the salary earned will be determined by experience and expertise.
Qualified salary expectations vary depending on the role, but all TTS apprenticeships open doors to careers that typically provide earnings between £20-30,000, with more specialist roles commanding much more than this. Heavy vehicle technicians typically earn more than light vehicle technicians, for example, and long-distance drivers typically earn more than drivers on local routes, so there are significant variances even within professions.
The best way to ascertain the salary that you could achieve once you are fully qualified is to search job listings to see what salaries companies in your local area are offering.
Absolutely not! Whilst the automotive and transport industries have traditionally offered employment opportunities for predominantly male roles, both are currently working hard to attract more female talent.
TTS is keen to encourage apprenticeship recruitment from all sectors of the population and is very active in encouraging more young women and people of all ethnicities and minority groups to consider a career in the retail motor and transport industries.
An interesting fact is that women could actually be better drivers! A skills shortage report published by the Freight Transport Association in November 2018 showed that, although the number of women taking the practical large good vehicle test is only around 8% of all test takers, the pass rate for women is consistently higher than their male counterparts!
If you are in doubt, please speak to our Careers Development Office, Robert Deignan, who can talk you through your suitability for one of our apprenticeships.
Nothing! There is no cost to the apprentice during his/her training. You will earn a decent wage from day one. Read more about apprenticeship wages here: How much does an apprentice get paid? FAQ
You may, however, be required to invest in some tools to do your job. Read more on this here: Do I need any tools or equipment for my apprenticeship?” FAQ
For some apprenticeships, you may be required to have your own tools, but we wouldn’t recommend making any significant purchases without seeking advice first of all. Your TTS Careers Development Officer can liaise with you and your employer to find out what equipment you will need.
Some employers offer tool allowances or loans to help get you started.
TTS is consistently praised for its support of young people. We have a dedicated Careers Development Officer to provide ongoing pastoral care to ensure you are developing well and integrating successfully into your workplace, and to provide you with regular feedback on your progress.
Your Careers Development Officer is also the link between you and your employer and is there to make sure any issues, on either side, are resolved quickly.
Proof of the quality of support available is the large number of employers who themselves came through an apprenticeship with TTS and want a similar, quality experience for the staff they employ.
You can find out more about our pastoral care by downloading our Apprentice Pastoral Care Handbook here: Download PDF.
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 including:
We also train apprentices for local franchise dealerships and independent employers and family businesses throughout Northern Ireland, such as:
This is not an exhaustive list and as you can see covers the entire geography of Northern Ireland. We endeavour, as far as possible, to match apprentices to vacancies in their locality.
In an apprenticeship there is no pass or fail. The measure of success is satisfactory completion of the apprenticeship. 97% of TTS apprenticeship starters successfully complete the three-year course.
The first step is to complete an online application, which can be found here. When we receive and process your application, you will be invited to TTS to participate in a range of aptitude tests. Please note, any candidate under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.