British bike manufacturer Norton is launching a skills academy at its Donington Hall headquarters.
Hundreds of young people will be trained to build bikes in the grounds of the 18th century Donington Hall in Castle Donington. Norton aims to take in 40 apprentices by September, when the course is scheduled to start. Eventually, the company plans to recruit 100 apprentices per year for its three-year skills course.
The launch of the British Motorcycle Manufacturing Academy reflects the dream of company owner Stuart Garner, who wants Norton to build entirely British bikes. Currently, 83% of parts for Norton bikes are made in the UK and Garner is aiming to make it 100%. To achieve this goal, the academy will equip the apprentices with the necessary skills to build all components that create a bike.
Building wholly British-made motorcycles is hard to do because there is no way to buy some of the parts in Britain, Garner noted. For instance, there is no suspension or brake manufacturing in the UK so Norton has to source these parts from the Far East.
Garner attributes this to the UK skills shortage and his company wants to do something about it. Rather than attending a classroom-based course, apprentices will come to Donington Hall, “get their hands dirty” and make bike parts, he said. Norton hopes that the British Motorcycle Manufacturing Academy will support the growth of the British motorcycle manufacturing industry as a whole.
Motor industry specialist Adam Wragg from Loughborough College will be in charge of the academy. The apprentices will be working towards a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ).
Norton has approached George Osborne for funding and the Chancellor has said he will help the cause.