Published: 00:01, 08 March 2018
| Updated: 09:21, 08 March 2018
Motor retailer Lookers is kick starting a national recruitment drive for more than 160 apprentices.
The company, which has Mercedes dealerships in Ashford, Canterbury, Maidstone and Tonbridge, hopes to double its number of female apprentices as part of National Apprenticeship Week, running until Friday.
It has launched a support network for women to provide an online and social media forum for the participants to learn from each other and share experiences.
Chelsea Bayley, who started as an apprentice technician at Lookers BMW last year, said: “Joining the Lookers apprentice programme has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.
"Everyone has been really helpful and have made sure that I’m supported every step of the way, whether it’s working on routine service work or more complicated repair jobs. I would encourage anyone to join the programme.”
It is unclear how many apprenticeships will be offered in Kent, with numbers allocated based on demand from applicants.
Lookers, which also has Smart car dealerships in Maidstone and Tonbridge, increased annual turnover by 15% to £4.7 billion last year.
The group saw a 6% rise in new cars sales on like-for-like basis against a backdrop of a 5.6% dip in the wider new car market.
Used car sales were also up from 84,502 units to 92,105.
Its adjusted operating profit grew by 3% to £84.7 million
Head of qualifications Steve Maule said: “2017 was a huge year for our apprenticeship programme and was a real statement of intent about the importance we place on attracting bright young talent into the business.
“This year we continue our investment in the programme as well as placing additional focus on attracting female apprentices, something that has traditionally been a struggle for the motor industry.
"We aim to have the right infrastructure and support networks in place to achieve this objective. Apprentices are a huge part of our recruitment strategy at Lookers and they have an important part to play in the future of the wider motor industry.”
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