Real Voices: Paul Bellamy

The industry has changed enormously for the better.

I left school at 15 in 1962 without any formal qualifications and through a contact of my father’s, I secured an MAA apprenticeship with Scientific Motors Ltd., a Rootes Group Agent, in Bournemouth. I subsequently qualified with CGLI Motor Mechanic and Technician qualifications, completing my apprenticeship, and passing the National Craftsman Certificate in Motor Vehicle Work. This was the first time that I felt I had studied seriously, as there was an incentive, and the teaching was practical and orientated towards what I wanted to do. Thereafter, I studied a two-year evening course leading to an IMI qualification and IMI membership.

Originally my career plan was to progress to a Workshop Manager or go into sales, but in fact I was I was invited by my former lecturer to teach an owner-driver course at Bournemouth College of Technology. This class had great diversity in terms of age and gender and included two nuns who wanted to learn how to work on their Austin 1100, what today would be considered a classic car! This gave me a taste for teaching and in 1972, led to my appointment as Assistant Lecturer to teach Motor Vehicle Work at Paddington CFE. Further part-time study enabled me to gain a teaching qualification and thereafter a B. Ed (Hons) Degree, and later with further part time study, membership of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development.

Promotions gained over the years concluded with my appointment as Principal, a position I held until retirement for over 14 years. The industry has changed enormously for the better since 1962 and without a doubt provides a career path of enormous opportunity with the emphasis on cutting edge technology and quality customer service, probably far more so than before, which is testament to my own career journey having left school at 15 with no qualifications.

My favorite part of my role whilst at Scientific Motors, was vehicle recovery, we did a lot of breakdown jobs for the AA and the RAC. I enjoyed being able to help people who had broken down on their holidays in Bournemouth. We were able to take our time on jobs such as engine rebuilds, which made the practical work very enjoyable.

Once I got into teaching, the best part of my job was helping students on their journey. Seeing them pick up qualifications and new skills was, whilst challenging at times, very rewarding.

There is a big misconception that working in automotive ‘isn’t a proper job’ and is greasy and dirty. You don’t have to look far to see the modern environments many automotive companies now operate in, with keen and smart employees. Companies are eager to cultivate and train their staff to keep up with the rapid changes in the industry. For example, engine management systems are now very sophisticated and have seen huge levels of change in technology, which our industry’s personnel do a fantastic job of keeping up to date with. I entered the retail motor industry without formal qualification and gained from following a vocational programme of part-time study. Today, young people should consider the industry as an alternative to 6th form or after 6th form an alternative to university; vocational career routes into the industry are available and very worthwhile and satisfying.

The automotive industry is a very progressive industry, with technology changing all the time. A key area is quality assurance and quality control, the industry must provide the highest standards whether that is in technical fields, sales and/or management. If you have experience in these areas of expertise there is real opportunity for you to drive an automotive company forward in a dynamic way.

Paul’s words of wisdom

“Consider the industry as an alternative to 6th form or after 6th form an alternative to university; vocational career routes into the industry are available and very worthwhile and satisfying.”