The professional fitment of commercial tyres is a skilled but dangerous service with technicians being killed or maimed on an annual basis mainly through tyres exploding or a lack of safety awareness when working at the roadside.
In an attempt to halt this statistic, there is now a new, updated Specialist Tyre Operative (STO) Apprenticeship Standard that was recently launched at the National Tyre Distributors Association (NTDA) 2019 conference.
With a strong heritage in the automotive sector, and a commitment to innovation and raising the standard of training across the automotive industry, Remit Group has worked alongside a trailblazer group that has included the National Tyre Distributors Association (NTDA), and key sector employers such as Kwik Fit, to create a programme that will train commercial tyre technicians how to carry out both scheduled tyre maintenance and emergency response work in a variety of locations.
Dave Walker, Remit’s project manager (Automotive) said: “At the moment specialist tyre fitting remains a significant problem in the UK market in terms of training standards. Through this groundbreaking apprenticeship scheme we intend to provide a stabilising ‘general standard’ for the sector and make all fitters fully aware of the numerous health and safety issues in their job.”
STO is responsible for the safe replacement of around 500k HGV’s and overseas trucks, approximately 3.9 million light commercial vehicles and an estimated 160k buses and coaches and successful completion of the scheme will enable technicians to confidentially inspect, remove, repair or replace and correctly re-balance tyres on all types of commercial vehicles in all locations and in total safety. At the same time apprentices will be able to interpret specific data from TPMS systems, EU tyre Labelling, tyre sidewall markings as well as load indices to guarantee that the correct tyres are used on the right type of vehicle.
Walker added: “To ensure all apprentices receive the highest standards of training, they will each attend five, one week block release sessions over the 15 month programme at our (Remit’s) ‘Automotive Academy’ in Derby. The apprentice technicians will work with highly experienced tutors to effectively build their knowledge and skills through a comprehensive programme that will allow them to apply and further develop their job skills. The comprehensive programme will enable them to apply and develop their job skills and confidence further back in the workplace between their periods of training at the Academy.
“It is generally recognised that the majority of training in UK commercial tyre fitment training is carried out internally meaning that the next generation of fitters have not received any formal training with their working knowledge handed down from employee to employee.”
The new STO apprenticeship standard can be funded by the apprenticeship levy for all organisations with an annual employee wage bill over £3 million. Whilst businesses below this level are required to invest just five per cent towards the cost of the apprenticeship training. So it is more about commercial tyre service companies investing in time rather than cost. Remit also provides a valuable service in many aspects of the scheme including the recruitment of new technicians.
Walker concluded: “Our ultimate objective is to have every single commercial tyre fitment company in the country working within a recognised high standard.”