Sheffield mechanic training centre helps 600th apprentice find a job

A Sheffield training garage has helped 600 apprentices find a job after a rise in applications from people left unemployed by the pandemic.

Wednesday, 23rd December 2020, 11:41 am

Ignition Training hit the milestone after continuing to teach mechanic skills to disabled people, ex-offenders and those with addiction or mental health issues, despite a year of lockdowns and restrictions.

The social enterprise on Fitzwalter Road, Norfolk Park, offers free, ‘hands on’ training, coupled with support for issues including debt and addiction through a network of specialists. It also runs events at job centres and schools.

Established in 2014, it was based in Doncaster when it burned down in a fire in 2018 which destroyed equipment worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

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David Brazer, left, founder of Ignition Training, with Janette Haddon and Steve Sylvester.

It re-opened in Sheffield just as the UK entered its first lockdown.

“It’s more than just about a job, it’s about giving people the confidence to walk through the door,” says founder and social entrepreneur David Brazer.

Mr Brazer added: “One of our learners was involved in crime before he started and he couldn’t look you in the eye. Now he’s looking you in the eye, he’s not involved in crime, and teaching the other kids. We’re about to offer him an apprenticeship.”

It aims to boost self-esteem and instil a work ethic in apprentices, many of whom found traditional classrooms challenging, he added.

Ignition Training Centre on Fitzwalter Road.

“Sometimes it’s just about teaching them how to get there on time.”

Ignition is funded by The Big Lottery Fund and was Social Enterprise of the Year in 2017.

Along with qualifications and references, apprentices pick up communication skills transferable to any career, such as workplace body language.

After losing his job due to Covid-19, Ryan arrived at Ignition “with very low confidence,” but by working on motor projects regained his job-hunting drive, said David.

David Brazer, left, with trainee Darren Maidens.

Darren Maidens, who joined Ignition after reaching a dead end at college, found a job soon after finishing.

“This is just the start, I’m determined to succeed...I’m not giving in now,” he said.

Sarah Trouten, chief executive at the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs, said Ignition has “from humble beginnings” sprouted into an impactful community, “saving stretched local services significant amounts of money.”

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