A longstanding campaign by the Fork Lift Truck Association has finally resulted in the creation of a new, nationally recognised apprenticeship qualification for fork lift truck engineers.
Responding to the worsening shortage of budding service engineers entering the industry, the FLTA has spent almost a decade developing an apprenticeship scheme that meets the unique engineering challenges presented when working on a fork lift truck.
Working with partners Retail Motor Industry Training (ReMIT) and North Warwickshire & Hinckley College, the FLTA has developed a course entitled "Vehicle Maintenance & Repairs (Lift Trucks)" which is accredited by the Institute of Motor Industries (IMI); a body that already provides officially accredited apprentice training for cars, vans, lorries and a range of other vehicles.
FLTA chief executive David Ellison explains: "It has been a marathon effort by all involved to devise an apprentice programme flexible enough to respond to the needs of the fork lift truck industry, while also meeting shifting policy criteria.
"These days, lift trucks are almost unique in the level and sheer variety of engineering skills they demand, as well as the pace of innovation and improvement in the technology. It all makes for an exciting syllabus and one we'll need to update on a regular basis."
UK market leader Linde Material Handling has already announced that it will register no fewer than 16 apprentices for the first year of the new course, while students already enrolled for the FLTA's highly successful lift truck apprenticeship pilot scheme will be transferred free of charge.
David Ellison continues: "Our industry needs high quality engineers, and it's no secret that many are beginning to approach retirement. That means we have an urgent need for bright, enthusiastic recruits and I'm sure this new course will deliver exactly that.
"I fully expect a large number of dealerships will want to benefit from this inexpensive and highly effective way of bringing fresh young talent into our industry and will make significant numbers of placements available.
"Similarly, I hope companies using fork lift trucks will be delighted if their usual engineer arrives with an apprentice in tow after all, it shows a forward-thinking company who has your long-term service in mind."