Real Voices: Stephanie Jones

I am proud of my journey.

I studied and qualified to be a mechanic at Walsall College in the mid-90s and started teaching part-time in 1999; originally contextualising the old key skills qualifications with real automotive scenarios before expanding into automotive subjects.

I developed my confidence and teaching resources with the help of my colleagues (who were once some of my tutors!) and I then went on to teach full-time at Sandwell College.

Within 12 months, I progressed to become Team Leader and I shared nearly 14 years working with some amazing people.

A couple of further moves down the line, and now with nearly 25 years of experience working in the automotive education sector under my belt, I find myself at City of Wolverhampton College as Automotive Curriculum Manager working with a fantastic team as we inspire and teach the next generation of automotive personnel.

I have had some amazing experiences and have met some fabulous people, both learners and colleagues. I am proud of my journey and feel hugely rewarded by the positive impact that I have had on others.

The best part of my job is working with young people, as it really keeps me grounded and gives me confidence. Being able to talk, challenge, and laugh with young people keeps me feeling young!

It is so rewarding to support them on their journey from 16-year-old teenagers to young adults, who at the end are usually very thankful for that support and guidance I have provided.

The biggest misconception of the sector is that it is dirty, dark, and that you must work unsociable hours, such as late nights and weekends. The industry is transitioning towards much cleaner environments and it is no longer always about getting dirty or grubby, for example now, most diagnostics are computer-based and many workshops are clinically clean.

Another misconception is that the industry is low paid, whereas this has actually improved over recent years.

Do your research! The automotive industry is not just fixing cars. The way I explain it to my learners is by using a tree analogy. The tree trunk is completing your qualification, the top of the tree is once you’ve gained your qualification and from there the tree with all its branches and leaves represents all the different opportunities and roles within the industry.

For example, I studied mechanics at college, I have had my own unit, I have tinkered with body repair, and done short circuit racing, before embarking on my career within education.

Good communication skills are an excellent transferable skill that can help you enter the industry. Being able to communicate with stakeholders at all levels is a fantastic asset, the banter and personable culture of the automotive industry is second to none so communication skills will stand you in great stead for a challenging yet rewarding career in the automotive industry.

Stephanie’s words of wisdom

“Communication skills will stand you in great stead for a challenging yet rewarding career in the automotive industry.”