Leading trailer and truck service provider, TIP Group, has completed its inaugural TIP Mechanic Academy (TMA), a first-of-its-kind trailer mechanic training programme, with 10 students achieving a ‘fast-track’ graduation to become a professional trailer mechanic.

Launched in the autumn of 2023 in response to the growing UK-wide shortage of qualified trailer mechanics, the TMA has provided the students with comprehensive and trailer-dedicated mechanic training in just nine months and has also enabled them to gain independent, professional certification in doing so.

Students that were enrolled to the programme came from across the UK to receive in-depth training on all aspects of trailer maintenance at TIP’s new, state-of-the-art and purpose-built training facility in Nuneaton. Over the course of the programme, students were taught both in a real workshop environment, a classroom and via online course material to benefit from a blended learning experience. The practical learning element was delivered with full access to tooling, equipment and to real trailers to work on, under the guidance of experienced TIP mechanics.

The multi disciplined training programme was made up of 16 modules, covering key aspects of trailer maintenance such as axles, brakes, suspension, tyres, superstructure, electrics and the performing of safety inspections. The students underwent a mid-term assessment in December, before being independently assessed over two days at the end of March by undergoing written examinations and multiple practical-based tasks.

The programme was developed by a newly created team at TIP, led by experienced fleet engineer Paul Bell, and Netherlands-based training company INNOVAM who worked together to produce a syllabus that was dedicated to training mechanics so that they would be specifically skilled to work on today’s complex semi-trailers. The training period was 9-months, as opposed to the industry norm of three to four years for heavy vehicle certification. Working with an independent training provider was considered fundamental to the programme and has enabled students to achieve, not only TIP’s level-3 mechanic accreditation, but the independent IBKI Trailer Mechanic qualification.

The newly qualified mechanics will now support the maintenance and repair services that TIP provides from its UK network of workshops for its ‘managed’ fleet of around 40,000 trailers across the UK and Ireland, whilst continuing to be mentored by experienced TIP trailer mechanics.

In addition to the upfront offer of a role as mechanic in a TIP workshop upon successful graduation, students were paid a competitive salary by TIP throughout the programme, in addition to other benefits, not least a comprehensive toolbox worth over £1,000.

“We rely on mechanics to serve our customers and to keep our fleet, and theirs, on the road. They are the lifeblood of our industry and to have provided a new and unique pathway for next generation mechanic talent to enter the workforce is something that we are extremely excited about and very proud of,” commented Paul Bell, Global Mechanic Development Leader, TIP.

“A combination of the excellent learning facilities that have been created, the trailer mechanic specific course content, the dedication of the TMA team and that of our training provider have all combined to facilitate the required training within a groundbreaking short period of time. However, it’s the hard work demonstrated by the programme’s students that has made this outcome possible most of all. We consider the first TMA very much a success and work has now begun on the recruitment drive for the next intake of students”, added Paul.

The graduates all reported a very high level of satisfaction with the course, praising the syllabus, the learning environment and the team bonds that were created amongst the students over the course.

Newly qualified trailer mechanic, Emma Moriarty commented: “When I saw the TIP TMA being advertised, I knew I had to jump at the chance, and I’m so pleased that I did. The course was brilliant, the tutors were great, and made the learning experience enjoyable, and best of all, we have a career waiting for us at the end of it. If anyone is thinking about signing up for the TMA, my only advice would be to go for it!”

TIP is also delivering its TMA programme in France, Germany, Denmark and Netherlands to facilitate a unified approach to attracting new mechanic talent throughout the TIP network.