Friends Charlotte Brown and Emily Capel have landed their dream jobs – as apprentice heavy truck technicians working for their local Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle dealer.
The 18-year-olds were taken on after convincing managers at Sparshatts of Kent of their commitment by turning up at every opportunity during their summer holidays to gain – unpaid – work experience.
Charlotte and Emily have now joined the team at Sparshatts’ 24-hour workshop on the Acorn Industrial Estate, Dartford. Their four-year HGV apprenticeships will combine practical, on-the-job instruction on servicing and repairing vehicles such as the mighty Mercedes-Benz Actros premium tractor unit, with classroom learning at Mid-Kent College, Maidstone.
Close friends for seven years, the girls live in Strood and resolved while pupils at Chapter School to pursue careers in the automotive industry. Before landing their first jobs they took a course in car mechanics at Mid-Kent College, with which the dealer has had close links for a number of years.
Sparshatts’ Depot Manager Gary Wilson recalled: “The college asked if the girls could come along for some work experience and we agreed. Charlotte and Emily duly turned up, got stuck straight in and four months later they were still coming; they’d be here every day of the week if they could.
“We offered work experience to several others too, but none were as motivated as the girls, who were really keen and clearly loved every minute of it. So when we sat down to consider who we’d take on as apprentices this year, we very quickly decided to offer the positions to Charlotte and Emily. These are still early days, of course, but they certainly seem to be rising to the challenge and we’re delighted with their progress.”
The girls are working under the supervision of Workshop Team Assistant Manager Rick Du’Chesne, a qualified training assessor, who is ensuring that they gain a wide variety of experience, working alongside the dealership’s dedicated teams of truck and van technicians.
Certainly, Charlotte and Emily are determined to make the most of the opportunity that Sparshatts of Kent has given them.
“This is definitely what I want to do and my family and friends have all been very supportive, and we’ve been made to feel very welcome by our workshop colleagues,” said Charlotte. “I like the fact that I don’t just have a job, I have started on a proper career path which will enable me, eventually, to become a fully qualified technician.”
Emily, meanwhile, has wanted to be a mechanic since she was 12. “My grandad used to work on big dumpers and he taught me quite a bit,” she said. “The job does involve a bit of heavy lifting but much of it is down to technique – so whereas some of the guys will just pull the wheels off a vehicle, we will use a lever. I’ll get the job done because I know I’m not going to get another chance like this.”
And Director Helen Jones, who prior to her recent promotion to the Board served stints in after sales and sales, added: “We operate in what has traditionally been a male-dominated industry. But Sparshatts of Kent is proud of its track record as an equal opportunities employer; our Financial Controller is a woman and we also employ women in our sales and parts departments, so we are delighted to welcome Charlotte and Emily to the company team, and wish them every success in their chosen careers.”
Sparshatts of Kent is one of Britain’s longest-serving and most successful Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle dealers. In addition to its Dartford facility, the company has headquarters in Sittingbourne and other outlets in Ashford and Tunbridge Wells, and is responsible for sales and support of the German manufacturer’s award-winning truck and van ranges, as well as popular Fuso Canter light trucks.