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The latest addition to City College Plymouth’s highly skilled auto engineering team is a former student who, now aged 27, has achieved his ambition of becoming the youngest Volkswagen (VW) trainer in the UK when he first took on the role at the age of 21.
Jamie Smith joined the College in 2010 after deciding he preferred cars to buildings, and he ditched his plans to become an architect and enrolled onto a level 2 course in automotive engineering. Fuelled by his passion for vehicles, Jamie quickly got to grips with the basics and was soon offered an Apprenticeship with VW. After completing the various level 3 qualifications and requirements, Jamie was promoted to a fully fledged VW Technician, working on commercial vehicles at the Murray Van Centre in Plympton.
Jamie was invited to join a fast-track programme that allowed him to quickly progress to a master technician, but something inside was encouraging him to keep going.
Jamie said: “When I was about four or five, I used to tell people that I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up: I assume my ambition to become a trainer stems from this. In 2015 I was given the opportunity to join the Volkswagen National Learning Centre as a technical trainer for commercial vehicles and relocated to Milton Keynes.
“As a technical trainer, it was my role to train the technicians and keep them up-to-date with the latest developments in terms of the technology being introduced by VW. It did feel a bit strange at first, training people with decades of experience, but in an industry such as auto engineering, you are constantly learning from people of all ages and all stages of their careers.”
After a couple of years living in Milton Keynes, Jamie crossed paths with his former lecturer Tony whilst attending the IMI Skills Show. After reeling off his impressive CV to Tony, Jamie and Tony agreed to stay in touch and this started Jamie on his path back to the College.
The year 2018 saw another promotion for Jamie when he started designing training courses for vehicle technicians – a role he loved thanks to the mix of being on the shop floor and in the office designing training modules.
Jamie said: “I really found a passion for designing training programmes – I find it really rewarding to help develop the technicians who I initially learnt my skills from. We all have different interests and skills, so being able to support one another is crucial in an industry that is changing so rapidly.
“Family commitments brought me back to Plymouth in the end and, after being invited to the College for various employer engagement events, I was then offered a job teaching the part-time students and apprentices.
“It’s quite a different experience to teaching technicians, but you get a similar level of satisfaction, possibly even more, as you are literally edging these men and women towards what will hopefully become a lifelong career. I am getting to design my own course content and that’s a lot of fun and a different type of challenge.
“The team at the College has such a vast and rich combination of skills and experience: I know how much studying here benefitted me, and anyone looking to study auto engineering will be in great hands by studying at City College.”