You're never too old to learn new tricks
PUBLISHED: 14:38 22 December 2008 | UPDATED: 10:28 11 August 2010
WE MIGHT be in the middle of a credit crunch, but one company is determined to expand and train new staff through these difficult times. The attitude towards learning at AJC Wilson Bodyshop in Dagenham is the reason why they were crowned Best for Trainin
WE MIGHT be in the middle of a credit crunch, but one company is determined to expand and train new staff through these difficult times.
The attitude towards learning at AJC Wilson Bodyshop in Dagenham is the reason why they were crowned 'Best for Training and Development at the Thames Gateway Business awards last month.
It has become the company ethos that 'you are never too old to learn new tricks' and as such they have a lifelong training scheme in place.
Anyone, from apprentice technicians to senior management can take part in a range of courses which will ultimately benefit them and the company.
This dynamic workshop was the first in the UK to be honoured with the British Kite seal of approval, meaning their work is of the highest quality.
This, along with their diverse training scheme is a great source of pride for AJC who display their Archant business award proudly in the foyer.
Manager and co-owner, Paul Cunningham, says: "We have always believed in training people up through the company.
"I started out as an administrative member of staff, booking customers in, and that sort of thing.
"Slowly I moved my way through the firm and now I'm a co-owner.
"It is a fantastic place for career opportunities."
Around 60 percent of the staff in management positions have been at AJC for years, and have worked their way up from apprenticeships.
But as Paul says: "It's good that we have a slow turn around on staff. If people want to stay, you know you're doing something right!"
The company has an excellent relationship with CEME in Rainham, who send their outstanding candidates for jobs to them.
At the moment there are 14 technicians in the workshop, automotive accredited (ATA), or senior, and three of these came from CEME.
AJC also take on youngsters straight from school - as long as they are determined and willing to learn.
Paul says: "It can take a good five years to achieve the level of expertise that our guys have.
"The focus and effort we put on training is huge, costing the company £20-30,000 a year.
"Techniques in this industry are changing all the time. It moves so fast, you could get left behind."
AJC are always thinking of ways to train staff which also benefits the company - all technicians strip vehicles and also remove glass - a job for which they used to pay outside specialists.
Several Eastern Europeans working there are on a training programme to help them with their English, done in partnership with Barking and Dagenham Council, and for which AJC receive funding.
Paul adds: "Most of the guys start off by stripping car panels, then as they progress through their training we give them more responsibility.
"All of the apprentices have a mentor, someone who has moved up to a more senior position who they can ask for help and guidance.
"If people aren't learning they get stale. We want to encourage the kind of atmosphere where they are excited about coming to work!
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