March 6th, 2019

Reigniting Heritage Engineering

Author: John Pitchforth – Heritage Engineering Technician and Managing Director of Heritage Skills Academy

The Heritage Engineering ‘Classic Vehicle’ sector employs 40,000 people and has a turnover of £5.4 Billion per year.

Heritage Skills Academy (HSA) offers a range of interesting and diverse engineering Apprenticeships opportunities. Apprentices have to overcome a range of technical challenges and the 42 month programme combines ‘old-school ’engineering skills, knowledge and values with the latest technologies.

Apprentices work on marques such as Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Jaguar, Ferrari, Bugatti, Alvis, Aston Martin and Austin Healey. Historic Motor Racing specialists such as Performance Classics and RPS Ltd offer exciting apprenticeship opportunities which enable our apprentices to support teams at Goodwood Revival, Le Mans 24 hr and many other famous races and race tracks. Our apprentices also prepare historic vehicles for long distance rallies such as ‘Paris to Peking’ covering over 10,000 miles over several weeks.

For many years, the industry has relied on the skills of an ageing band of brilliant engineers. Modern apprenticeships did not cover the skills and knowledge required by industry, which resulted in a growing shortage of skilled heritage engineers.

The Heritage Engineering world has embraced the New Standards wholeheartedly. They now have an apprenticeship, which is relevant to their needs and delivered in a way that enhances their businesses. After 20 years of virtually no apprentice training, we have placed 50 apprentices into the Classic Vehicle Sector alone since August 2018.

For Apprentices, no two days are the same; they can be researching the history of a vehicle, sourcing and redesigning components, re-trimming the interior of a 60’s classic or recreating the flowing coachwork and lines of a 1930’s work of art.

Heritage Engineering Technicians are taught a combination of the old traditional engineering skills and techniques combined with the use of cutting-edge technology to diagnose failures and reverse engineer components and materials. All of these skills are transferable across the engineering sector.

Apprentices are taught a broad syllabus covering business management, handling customer expectations, working in teams to timescales and budgets and training them in the behaviours and techniques required in the modern world.

It has helped us to promote heritage engineering on a whole, with this exciting new route into our industry. We have gained the confidence of young people, parents, employers, schools, colleges and universities and have shown that being recognised as a Heritage Engineer is a badge of honour to be proud of.

Since August 2018, we have recruited applicants ranging in age from 16 to 50 and approaching 20% of our engineers are female.

Our industry is now looking for enthusiastic applicants of all ages to pass skills and knowledge to the next generation. Prospects for progression within the industry are excellent and worldwide job opportunities are waiting for those that want to but their best into becoming world-class engineers.

You can find out more information about Heritage Engineering Apprenticeships at


Footman James were pleased to attend a course at the Heritage Skills Academy in February this year, alongside two winners of the Footman James Advent competition. As proud supporters of the work Heritage Skills Academy does, Footman James were pleased to participate and learn all about the ways enthusiasts can inspect their classic like a professional. You can read more about our experience at Heritage Skills Academy in our blog about The Restoration Revival Courses That Are Revving Up Apprentices and Classic Owners.