BMW Great Britain Ltd has become the only motor manufacturer to be awarded Beacon Status by the Department for Education and Skills. Dr Kim Howells MP, Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education presented the award at a ceremony in London on Tuesday 12 October 2004.

Learning and Skills Beacon status recognises excellent institutions that deliver high quality teaching and learning environments for post-16 students. The Centre for Development at BMW GB's headquarters in Berkshire offers training for around 300 technical modern apprentices, in programmes such as motor vehicle engineering and vehicle body repair.

Less than 60 organisations in the country have been awarded Beacon status and the majority are traditional teaching establishments such as colleges and universities. BMW is the only organisation in the group to represent the motor industry.

Steve Nash, Aftersales Director BMW (GB) Ltd, said: "We're delighted to have won the award. It is recognition of our commitment to increasing skills in our dealerships, while providing the best learning experience. We see apprentices as integral to the continued success of BMW and to achieve the long-range people needs of our business."

As well as attracting a higher number of applicants, the respected BMW programme also keeps apprentices committed to the company. The retention rate for BMW apprentices is 95 per cent. The average in the motor industry is 50 per cent.

Patricia Richards, Chief Executive, Automotive Skills commented on the award: "This is splendid news that one of our leading retailers has earned this accolade. Beacon Status is not given lightly and it is a well deserved tribute to BMW's quality of apprenticeship training; we recognise their achievement and are delighted that BMW has set a precedent for the retail motor industry."

In addition to the modern apprenticeships, The Centre for Development supports the training needs of 11,000 dealer staff in 155 BMW dealerships across the UK from sales to service, parts and bodyshop.

Published : 18/10/04 Author : Melanie Carter

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