OnTrak Community initiative, a Trust My Garage approved social enterprise with a live garage workshop and a community training project, has been helping to reduce truancy rates and get disillusioned young people back into learning.
Workshop profits are reinvested back into the local community, providing young people with practical on-site mechanical training. Truancy is an ongoing issue for the Department of Education, 5.2% of children were classified as “persistent absentees” in the academic year 2010/11.
The garage works with disaffected young people aged between 13 and 16, who struggle in a school environment. Many have dyslexia and, because of limited funding, schools cannot give these students the extra support they need to learn new skills.
“We pick these students up and offer them a second chance at future employment”, said Adrian Wood, Operations Director. “They learn vital skills within a live garage environment. They are trained from a basic level, where they are taught how to carry out maintenance checks on vehicles, before they are confident enough to handle more complex tasks like understanding a car’s electronics.”
Young people who drop out of school often have poor concentration levels so training has to be stimulating to keep them engaged. The numbers suggest the approach is working too; 38 students completed the learning programme in the past year, and each one obtained employment or further training as a result. Schools were surprised to find students with poor attendance records had 100% attendance.
Adrian Wood said: “The garage industry has received some bad publicity in the past, so how can young people be assured that they are learning from trusted professionals? We are a member of Trust My Garage, a nationwide scheme for independent garages launched by the Independent Garage Association. Because it is truly independent, garages like us become members based on professionalism and quality of service, rather than through financial investment.
Sales are up 260% from last year. Customers know money spent with us goes back into the community, boosting confidence in the independent garage sector.”