The Apprentice, Toyota-style

We like to think our Toyota Apprentice Technicians are the best in the business. That’s because we start out with some of Britain’s most enthusiastic, talented and dedicated 16- and 17-year olds, and turn them into true experts in every aspect of servicing and maintaining Toyota cars.

Each Toyota Apprentice Technician is recruited through one of our Toyota dealers. The process starts with a telephone interview, looking for young people with commitment, enthusiasm and a passion to work in the motor industry. Those who jump through this first hoop are then invited to for a selection test to assess their maths, English, IT skills and mechanical comprehension. Some candidates also go through a two-week work trial before being accepted onto the apprentice programme.

It’s the first step on a three-year journey from enthusiastic Toyota Apprentice to fully qualified Toyota Technician. For the next 36 months the apprentices learn hands-on at their Toyota dealership, with regular two-week blocks of intensive training at the Toyota Nottingham Training Academy.

During these training placements the apprentices really come to understand the Toyota way of doing things. Our ‘kaizen’ philosophy means striving for continual improvement in every aspect of our business. We don’t settle for second best or do things the same way just because that’s how they’ve always been done.

Our trainers instil another fundamental Toyota principle, to ‘fix it right first time’. This determination to solve any problem efficiently and thoroughly is a different way of working which technicians for other brands or at independent garages are unlikely to understand.

The depth of our training programme also goes well beyond what a young trainee at an independent garage will enjoy. Day release to go to college isn’t the same as being immersed in all things Toyota for two weeks at a time at the Nottingham Training Academy.

Our apprentices enjoy training which is both broad and specific. At the end of their three years they receive a nationally recognised qualification (Automotive Technician Accreditation). But they also receive their licence to work in Toyota dealers, and will know and understand hybrid powertrains in a way very few other technicians ever do.

At the end of their three years, the apprentices must knuckle-down to qualify as a fully-fledged Toyota Technician. After working through an e-learning programme, apprentices must pass an online exam. Then there’s a practical assessment in Nottingham or at another Toyota training centre in Essex.

This is when the candidates must really prove their worth. The assessment lasts a whole day, and tests the apprentices’ ability to diagnose and fix faults at eight different work stations. Only those who correctly identify every fault and how to fix it pass and become Toyota Technicians. A single mistake means further training and practical assessments.

So, three years of careful study and hard work have paid off. No longer a Toyota Apprentice, our eager 16- and 17-year-olds have become Toyota Technicians, licensed for three years.

Even then, training is far from over. There are regular courses to keep our technicians up to date with new models and emerging technologies, and several more rungs on the ladder to climb.

From Technician to Pro Technician, from Pro Technician to Diagnostic Technician, from Diagnostic Technician to Master Diagnostic Technician, the level of knowledge, skill and experience required continues to ramp up for those ambitious enough and talented enough. It usually takes two or three years to go from Technician to a Master Diagnostic Technician even for someone with a lot of talent and ambition.

Some of the very best eventually become Technical Advisors at Toyota GB’s headquarters, assisting dealers and customers with any technical problems.

It’s this level of training, dedication and expertise which sets a Toyota Technician apart from an average mechanic. When you understand what a demanding journey our apprentices face to become technicians, why would you trust your Toyota to anyone else?

See also:
Toyota Apprenticeship of the Year winners revealed
Toyota Manufacturing UK recruitment
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