National Apprenticeship Week – training the future workforce – Fleet/RME


“National Apprenticeship Week provides a great opportunity to highlight the success of high-quality skills training and the need to increase it further,” says the CWU’s Alan Tate.

Alan is the CWU postal executive member with specific responsibility for members in Royal Mail Fleet, who repair and maintain the company’s 46,000-plus vehicles, from the smallest CDVs up to the largest HGVs – including a growing number of electric and alternative fuel vehicles.

“We’ve got a workforce of around 1,000 fully skilled technicians and currently just over 100 apprentices,” he says.

“It’s a four-year training programme, during which they learn about all aspects of vehicle maintenance and repair for every class of vehicle we run in a mixture of practical and college-based learning – with the college aspect of the apprenticeship taking place on a block-release system run by Babcocks at their college in Milton Keynes.

Fleet Apprentice Kyle Wilsmore and his mentor Chris Ballotti at their workshop in Hemel Hempstead.

“The current scheme was introduced back in 2004 – strongly supported by the CWU – and it was a vast improvement on what we had before,” Alan continues, adding: “With an ageing workforce, there is an accepted recognition of the need to bring a whole new generation forward into this critically important part of the business through a proven and established succession plan.

“From a CWU point of view, we strongly support the growth and expansion of apprenticeship opportunities, which is good news for employment security, good news for the safety of our members out on the road, and also good news for the overall criticality of the wider Royal Mail operation.”

CWU assistant secretary Ray Ellis is currently leading for the union in national negotiations with Royal Mail Fleet management* and he says: “While our negotiations cover the whole range of pay, terms and conditions issues, our commitment to supporting and hopefully expanding further the company’s apprenticeship scheme is one of our key aspirations.

“We also have 60 apprentices within Royal Mail Engineering and although there is a different skill set here – largely electrical maintenance – it’s also hugely important that we as a union work with the business to continually raise skill levels and encourage young workers to come into these skilled occupations.

“This union is fully supportive of National Apprenticeship Week and we welcome this opportunity to raise the profile of this issue, which is massively important for the future of the business – as well as for our future economy.”

  • A full update on the national negotiations with Royal Mail Fleet will be reported as soon as possible.