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Car Garage Project Drives Home Truancy Message

An independent training project, OnTrak Community, is tackling truancy among school pupils by exposing them to workshop-based training, rather than classroom teaching. Figures are falling, but truancy is still a widespread problem, with some 5.1% of pupils classified as 'persistent absentees'.

An independent training project, OnTrak Community, is tackling truancy among school pupils by exposing them to workshop-based training, rather than classroom teaching. Figures are falling, but truancy is still a widespread problem, with some 5.1% of pupils classified as 'persistent absentees'. There can be any number of reasons why the problem arises. Some children have special needs that are not being met, some have issues with bullying and some may have problems at home. Some kids just never seem to feel at home in the classroom environment. Now the OnTrak Community initiative is giving disaffected kids the chance to re-engage in training.

OnTrak Community is approved by the 'Trust My Garage' scheme and features two business areas: a working garage workshop and a community training project. Profits are generated by the workshop, where drivers take their cars for servicing and repairs just as they would in any normal garage. This money is then ploughed into the community training project, where youngsters are given training on car mechanics. The project is attended by children aged between 13 and 16 who have become estranged from the schools system. It is reported that many have dyslexia, which the school is unable to support properly and the children simply stop going to class.

These children are engaged with practical training in a live workshop environment, first learning basic maintenance tasks and then advancing to mechanics and motor electronics. Children with poor attention levels are better suited to the stimulating garage environment, with the emphasis on practical tasks rather than academic studies. Pupils also receive incentives to learn, with access to a go-karting track given as a reward for achieving certain objectives. The project trained 38 school children in the past year. Many boasted 100% attendance rates and all went on to full-time employment or further training as a result of the course.

The turnover in the garage element of the project increased by 260% last year, a clear sign that drivers trust the youngsters to work on their cars. Such customers are attracted by a transparent pricing policy that sees them charged only for labour and parts. They also enjoy the knowledge that they are helping their community, with all profits being channelled straight back to helping the trainees. The OnTrak Community initiative is a great example of a social enterprise that works with young people and expanding it would fit rather well with the government's recently announced 'Driving Success' initiative, which aims to find and train more engineers.

 

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