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Case Study: Inside BMW’s Apprenticeship Programme


BMW has honed its apprenticeship scheme to develop and retain young talent, with an enviable 97% of recruits going on to develop their career at the company.

BMW has offered an apprenticeship scheme for the past 18 years, but the last few years, in particular, have seen important developments. Three years ago all training was moved in-house to fully utilise the knowledge existing within the company.

Testimony to the company’s commitment to offering premium training is BMW’s purpose-built training centre in Bracknell, Berkshire. It currently stands at 2,500 square feet and is devoted solely to training and development purposes. Expansion plans for the centre will see it nearly double in the near future to over 4,700 square feet.

Equipped with modern facilities, the centre has impressive new lecture rooms, workshops with the latest fibre optic technology, a fleet of 12 cars for dedicated use by apprentices, plus quality catering and luxury off-site campus accommodation. New apprentices are given an induction to the company through an outdoors training course in Dartmoor – one of many examples of the company’s determination to set new precedents in the quality of apprenticeships offered.

As part of the programme, apprentices cover units on body shop and servicing, technical and mechanical engineering, health and safety modules and key skills. However, the development of apprentices doesn’t stop at the learning. Adrian Davies, BMW’s career strategies manager, explains: “At BMW we regard every apprentice as a valid team member. We strive to teach them how to think for themselves, use their initiative and explore all issues. We don’t just give our apprentices a calculator and tell them to do the sums.”

BMW takes its responsibility to provide quality training in keeping with the brand very seriously. Adrian Davies firmly believes that the company’s success stems from the high quality of their trainees: “Our apprentices are integral to the continued success of BMW. It is imperative that they are equipped with the highest possible skills. The BMW brand equates to quality so we make sure that this ethos underpins our apprenticeship courses.”

Interestingly, while the motor industry as a whole has a disappointingly poor retention rate of apprentices (currently around 50 per cent leave during or after training) BMW portrays a very different picture. At present, 97 per cent of apprentices go on to hold down successful careers within the company. The BMW programme is also known to attract a greater number of applicants with intake of apprenticeships 20 per cent higher than many competitors.

The success of past BMW Apprentices speaks volumes about the training they receive. Robin Goss, became an apprentice after the sixth form and is now a permanent member of the team responsible for developing and implementing the very training course he began on.

Similarly, Daniel Houghton completed his apprenticeship and went on to work for a ‘Formula 1’ racing team. Though reluctant to lose him, the company was delighted to see that its in-house training had applications outside the general motor industry.

Speaking of the merits of Apprenticeships, Adrian Davies, adds: “Not only are apprenticeships immensely rewarding but from a business perspective they really deliver results. Like any business, we work to a budget and our development of high quality apprentices and our retention rate is one of the reasons we are successful today. Without these training standards, we would not have the competitive edge.”


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