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Colin Gardner, Automotive Instructor at GTG Edinburgh, talks about his role and the previous jobs and skills that have prepared him for life as a trainer.

Colin Gardner

What do you do as an HGV technical trainer?

‘An automotive technical trainer delivers industry-accredited training courses for those who want to learn to maintain heavy goods vehicles and their parts, both in the classroom and in the workshop. This could include learners of all ages and backgrounds who want to learn a trade from the beginning, through the apprenticeship journey.’

How did you get into this role?

‘I had experience in a garage as a technician, and a friend had said I would be suited to sharing my skills in a developmental role. That’s what got me thinking about applying to GTG and luckily I feel suited to the role – it’s been great for me so far.’

What do you like best about your trainer role?

‘No two days are the same; there is theory work, workshop work, and so much to cover in both settings, so it keeps both trainer and learners highly motivated.

‘Ultimately, it’s about helping people learn and develop their skills, which gives you a huge sense of satisfaction in the role. You like to see people succeed – it’s a real bonus.

‘When I think back to my own college days, I had a positive instructor who gave me a good grounding as a technician, and I try to train people that same way.’

‘Most of all though I just think it’s a great job. You work with apprentices and young people from the start of their learning journey to the end, over three years. Someone might begin a course as a reserved young person but at the same time they are developing their skills, they grow up as a person too.’

What has working at GTG been like?

‘It’s been a good experience, and much more organised than a typical garage setting. That can be much more day-to-day whereas at this training centre you are planning much further in advance, monitoring candidates’ learning, using Microsoft software, and improving your written and verbal skills all the time through sheer exposure in the classroom and in the workshop. In the garage, all you have to worry about is bringing your toolbox, while being a trainer means much more face-to-face contact, and interaction.

‘These have been positive changes for me in my career, and I feel very driven to do what I do.

‘One thing outside of work that has helped me is my coaching work with a youth football side called Motherwell Villa. Any coach worth their salt has to come up with coaching plans, and this mirrors my responsibility to make lesson plans at work for candidates. The two roles complement each other and having the work-life balance to do both is certainly a positive for me.’

Which skills and qualities can help you in an HGV technical trainer role?

‘Experience working in a garage environment is useful. You can pass on your experiences to apprentice technicians who are learning their trade every day. You can empathise with them because you have been in their situation, young and maybe uncertain about things.

‘Being organised is again important; for example, preparing the day before any online exams, with tablets set out for learners before they arrive. As well as having knowledge, these details give you more authority in your role.

‘But I think being passionate about seeing people succeed, and playing a part in that journey, counts for a lot, too.’

Do you want to become an automotive technical trainer with GTG? We are actively recruiting for trainers to teach all things automotive technical. Find out about our openings here.