New STO apprenticeship standard launched in the UK

In a bid to fill a significant training gap and improve safety standards for tyre technicians, UK training provider Remit Group has launched its brand-new Specialist Tyre Operative (STO) apprenticeship standard.

This new standard will support Specialist Tyre Operatives (STO), the highly skilled technicians that typically work on tyres for all vehicle types including heavy, commercial and plant.

Specialist Tyre Operatives (STO) are responsible for the safety of tyres on the UK’s HGVs, LCVs, buses, coaches and of agricultural, industrial, construction and earth moving machines.

Developed in conjunction with employers and the National Tyre Distributors Association (NTDA), the standard will train apprentices how to carry out both scheduled tyre maintenance and emergency response work in a wide variety of locations including public highways, motorways and construction sites, to docks, military facilities and airports. Tyre technician safety remains of paramount importance and this apprenticeship focuses on the safety of technicians and others in the vicinity, as each vehicle and location will be unique in nature.

As well as the inspection, removal, repair and replacement of commercial vehicle tyres, apprentices will be able to correctly balance vehicle wheels in all locations. They will interpret specific data from tyre pressure monitoring systems, EU tyre labelling, tyre sidewall markings and load indices to ensure appropriate tyres are being used for the right vehicles. They will also interpret vehicle specific data and adjust and report on a vehicle’s front wheel geometry.

STO apprentices will train on block release at the Remit Group Automotive Academy in Derby, where they will work with highly experienced tutors to help build their knowledge and skills. Remit Group has also developed a comprehensive programme to support apprentices and workplace mentors to plan and co-ordinate the training elements when in the workplace. This will ensure apprentices can apply and develop their skills and stay on track between the Academy training blocks.

As part of the new standards, apprentices must now pass an end point assessment at the end of their programme. This final assessment provides a robust and independent test to demonstrate an apprentice is fully occupationally competent. It will include an online knowledge test, a range of practical skills tests and a professional discussion. The end point assessment takes place when the employer, the apprentice and the training provider agree that the apprentice has reached the required standard.

This new apprenticeship standard extends the work of the NTDA’s wider licence portfolio, including the REACT programme. This is managed under the Tyre Technician Professional Development Scheme and to date has seen more than 6,000 registrations.

Stefan Hay, Chief Executive at the NTDA said: “It’s fantastic that our sector now has a recognised apprenticeship to offer its technicians. There can be no doubt, that the training and assessment of competency and safety, that this standard will offer, will play another key part in the Association’s mission to raise skill levels. We want to enhance the professionalism of the hard-working technicians who are keeping so many of the UK’s vehicles on the road, especially in the commercial sector on which the UK economy so heavily relies.”

Christine Peddie, automotive business director for Remit Training, said: “The development of this standard has been a welcome one for the many employers in this sector. It is based on employers’ expectations of what they are looking for in an apprentice and the skills, knowledge and behaviours they need for this specialist role. We recognised the challenges that employers and trade bodies like the NTDA faced in bringing this standard to market so we’re confident that in delivering this new Specialist Tyre Operative apprenticeship, we are playing a key role in raising standards and maintaining technician safety across the sector.”