Rolls-Royce announces opening of 2020 apprenticeship places

Rolls-Royce announces opening of 2020 apprenticeship places

Rolls-Royce has announced the official opening of applications for individuals to take part in its 2020 Sir Ralph Robins Degree Apprenticeships Programme.

Offering degree-level training for the next generation of automotive engineers, the scheme – now in its 14th year – allows its entrants to gain nationally-recognised qualifications and work alongside world-class craftspeople.


Developing the next generation of skilled professionals

Torsten Muller-Otvos, CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, said: “Our Apprenticeship Programme is one of our greatest achievements, providing unique professional and personal development opportunities for talented people.

“I am delighted that so many of our previous apprentices are still with us.”

He added it gives the organisation great pleasure to know that graduates of the programme are contributing to the wider success of British manufacturing.

That said, many graduates of the programme go on to progress into senior supervisory, technical and management roles with Rolls-Royce.

Applications for positions on this year’s programme are now open and the closing date for entrants is March 15th.

All those hoping to make the cut will be subject to a rigorous selection process, designed to assess their individual strengths, aptitudes, personal qualities and potential.

Successful applicants will join the programme in August this year, with the number of available places having been doubled in 2020.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “Rolls-Royce should be applauded for its commitment to developing the skills of the next generation of professionals in the UK automotive sector.”

photo of a hand holding a green drawn clock, BP filling station in the background

Minimising vehicle downtime

VOR can cause major disruptions to your fleet’s operations, affecting revenue targets, and can be quite costly, especially during recalls and other time-consuming procedures. According to a recent survey, some firms believe VOR can cost them between £3,000 and £4,000 per day, with some registering an average of three VOR days per year.

Although it’s inevitable that your fleet will experience some unplanned VOR from time to time, there are a number of steps you can take to minimise disruption.

Robust routine checks

Vehicle breakdowns are often caused by damaged or faulty equipment which could have been easily spotted during a routine maintenance check. By making these compulsory, your drivers can identify and report any benign issues before they worsen and being to interfere with the performance of the vehicle.

Driving style

While you may consider your employees to be experienced and proficient drivers, regular training can only help build their knowledge and awareness of potential road risks — and how to cope with them. Confident and well-trained drivers are less likely to be involved in an accident – one of the most common causes of VOR – while smooth and controlled driving is easier on the vehicle itself, reducing the likelihood of wear and tear – another contributing factor to vehicle off-road time. Telematics can be a great tool here to provide actionable insights on how each driver is performing – from plug in and go to advanced solutions see how telematics from BP can help you assess and address your employees driving style.

If you want to start saving your diesel & petrol bills, then look no further than our own BP fuelcard, for more information, click here: 

Debate over 'death trap' smart motorways heats up

Debate over ‘death trap’ smart motorways heats up

There’s a lively debate taking place in the UK at the moment – one that fleet managers will have a particular interest in – relating to the safety of the country’s busiest roads.

Smart motorways use various methods to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion, one of which is to turn the hard shoulder into an active driving lane.

Operating on stretches of the M1, M4, M5, M6, M42 and M62, this practice has raised safety concerns because motorists who break down could be stranded in traffic.

A recent report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Roadside Rescue and Recovery went as far as to call smart motorways “death traps”. This followed a BBC Panorama investigation which found that 38 people have been killed on these stretches of road in the last five years.

Road safety should be the number one priority for fleet managers, who could be concerned by these figures. There are always steps you can take to improve safety, such as introducing telematics to better understand driver habits and behaviours.


‘Shocking and careless’

The parliamentary group, which is made up of MPs from various parties, agreed that the introduction of smart motorways had led to the deaths of road users. It described the change as “shocking and careless”.

Concerns have also been raised by Police Federation chairman John Apter, who told the Daily Telegraph the technology was introduced on the assumption that it would be able to instantly detect any lane obstructions. This would allow help to be dispatched, while overhead gantries would be updated to warn drivers and close the affected lane.

“We … have been completely misled and a poor system has been introduced,” he added.

Sir Mike Penning, the former government minister who approved the smart motorway rollout, said the system is endangering people’s lives.

“There are people that are being killed and seriously injured on these roads, and it should never have happened,” he told the BBC.

Highways England responds

Highways England, which is responsible for managing motorways and major A-roads across England, responded to the recent controversy by releasing an official statement saying that “any deaths on our roads is one too many”.

The agency said the transport secretary had asked the Department for Transport to carry out an urgent “evidence stocktake” to gather the facts about smart motorway safety.

“We are committed to safety and are supporting the department in its work on this,” Highways England added.

As far as regular road users are concerned, RAC research released in November showed that nearly seven out of ten drivers (68 per cent) think removing the hard shoulder puts people at greater risk if their vehicle breaks down in a live lane.

Jenny Smith, general manager for Tele-Gence, commented: “Smart motorway safety is a big issue that – quite rightly – has attracted a lot of attention of late. Fleet managers should be sure to keep up with the latest developments in this area and take all necessary measures to help keep their drivers and other road users safe.”


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Suzuki ranked top car brand for customer satisfaction

Suzuki ranked top car brand for UK customer satisfaction

If you’re a fleet operator currently looking into potential additions to the range of vehicles used by your business, you might be interested to know that Suzuki has once again been named the top car brand for UK customer satisfaction.

As well as topping the list of motor industry manufacturers, the Japanese company was ranked fifth overall in the UK Customer Satisfaction Index, published this month by the Institute of Customer Service.

The findings were based on the views of 45,000 people, who were asked to rate their experiences of dealing with 259 different brands across 13 sectors.


Climbing up the rankings

Suzuki received an improved index score of 84.1 this year, compared to 83 in the January 2019 index, which meant it rose ten places up the rankings.

It was at the top of the list of all vehicle manufacturers listed, 11 places in front of the next automotive brand.

The survey asked respondents for their views on various aspects of how they were treated when dealing with brands, including:

  • Experience
  • Customer ethos
  • Emotional connection
  • Ethics

Suzuki said it scored “very strongly” in all categories, which helped it tie with Amazon in the overall customer satisfaction ranking, not far behind John Lewis and Next.

Nobuo Suyama, the company’s managing director in the UK, said: “We are very proud of our achievement to have again been recognised as the best car brand in the index. Continuing to evolve the Suzuki customer experience has been a core focus during recent years, and the ongoing efforts have clearly paid off.”

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “Suzuki has obviously been doing something right in recent years, and if these findings are to be believed, its customers are pretty happy. This could be worth bearing in mind if you’re thinking about refreshing your fleet anytime soon.”

Commercial Vehicle show to focus in industry skills shortage

Commercial Vehicle Show to focus on industry skills shortages

The Commercial Vehicle Show will return to the Birmingham NEC in April this year, and the organisers of the event will have a very specific focus: addressing the severe skills shortages facing UK transport and logistics companies.

According to research published at the end of 2019, nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of these firms are likely to face serious skills gaps in the coming year.


Education and diversity

Currently, the industry is facing a shortfall of nearly 60,000 workers, but this is expected to rise. The research highlighted issues including a lack of knowledge about transport and logistics, as well as outdated perceptions of the industry.

The Commercial Vehicle Show said it will be taking “active steps” to address these two key problems at this year’s event.

There will be appearances by driver training specialists, as well as providers showcasing the various ways qualifications can be gained to enter the industry.

Show director Murray Ellis said “championing education and diversity” will be vital to challenging misconceptions around the commercial vehicle sector.

“We are pleased to be offering visitors an extensive range of training and skills providers, allowing them to discover the wide range of roles that are available within the industry.”

Mr Ellis also commented on the importance of taking a “grass-roots approach” to opening up the sector to new skills, something the Commercial Vehicle Show will seek to achieve by introducing three live theatre spaces this year.

“This will allow us to facilitate both talks and panel discussions, informing and educating in a live show environment,” he added.

Attracting women to the industry

One of the key issues for the freight and transport sectors, as far as diversity and skills are concerned, is the lack of female representation.

Recent studies have shown that women make up only a fifth (20 per cent) of the total workforce in these industries, and just three per cent of Britain’s HGV drivers are female.

In response to this problem, many companies attending the Commercial Vehicle Show 2020 will be focusing on ways to attract more women to the event.

One such exhibitor is Hireco, which recently launched its updated truck stop at London Gateway with a particular emphasis on safety and cleanliness.

Paul Jeffery, the company’s truck park manager, pointed out that its facility at London Gateway now has features including a CCTV system with intelligent cameras that are capable of reacting to live events.

“We hope that by providing truck drivers with such high standard facilities, this should in turn attract more drivers – both male and female – to the industry and fix the ever-increasing shortage,” he added.

Coming to the Birmingham NEC from April 28th to 30th, the Commercial Vehicle Show will feature highlights including the Cool Zone, an area dedicated to companies that specialise in moving goods at controlled temperatures.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “It’s clear the transport and logistics sector needs to find ways to fill skills gaps and boost gender diversity, so it’s encouraging to see events like the Commercial Vehicle Show placing an emphasis on these issues.”