WHAT DOES HERITAGE SKILLS ACADEMY DO?
We work with employers, apprentices, and industry leaders to train the next generation of heritage engineers and promote exciting opportunities within the heritage industry
Founded by John Pitchforth in 2015 to meet a growing need for a younger generation in the Heritage Industry. We have worked with education and industry professionals to create and develop an apprenticeship standard which meets the needs of employers, and allows apprentices to develop the skills and attributes needed to thrive and succeed in a growing market.
With the support of the Federation of Historic British Vehicle Clubs, the Galashan Foundation and the Starter Motor Charity, HSA has developed workshop and training facilities dedicated to Heritage Engineering mechanical, coachbuilding and trim apprenticeships. For apprentices lucky enough to become part of Heritage Skills Academy, our locations within Bicester Heritage and Brooklands Museum provide an exciting and vibrant environment which embeds them within the world of specialist engineers, historic engineering and cutting edge technology.
We don't just deliver apprenticeship training; we have worked to develop a recruitment plan which helps free up the time and resource of employers. We work with you to make the recruitment and set up process as easy as possible and are always on the end of the phone to offer support and advice when needed.
We believe that only by working together can we ensure the skills and knowledge of passionate professionals are not lost.
MEET THE TEAM
John has worked in automotive apprenticeship training since 1986, he has been the CEO of a number of Training Providers and started the ‘Heritage Skills Academy’ in response to a widening skills gap within the restoration sector.
Working closely with engineering restoration specialists from the vehicle, aviation, marine and steam world, he has helped lead the development of the new ‘Heritage Engineering Apprenticeship Standard’ and to secure the funding to ensure high quality training the team have successfully developed and are delivering a training programme tailored to the requirements of this specialist industry.
Janice Pitchforth Operations Director
Janice joined the HSA team in January 2018 and brings 20 years of organisational experience to the company. Operating from our Head Office at Bicester Heritage, her role includes employer engagement, recruitment and administration. Acting as the primary contact with employers and apprentices, Janice ensures that all operational aspects of the business are handled quickly and effectively.
Andrew has been employed within the Vehicle Body Repair Industry/ Education for over 30 years and has had experience of a main dealer apprenticeship and training throughout his career.
He is an experienced college lecturer, having worked in inner London and beyond. Andrew is a keen car enthusiast and enjoys maintaining, showcasing and attending track days with his classic Beetle race car, which he custom built with students. He is a former scout leader and community volunteer. Andrew's passion for classic car restoration is clear to see and he is an advocate for combining modern technology with traditional craftmanship.
Owain Johns Development Director
After 23 years in the secondary education sector and school leadership I have moved to the fast moving apprentice sector.
It’s a privilege to be working with such enthusiastic apprentices who are the next generation of company directors.
I work on the leadership team to develop and grow Heritage Skills Academy, currently the only training establishment offering Heritage training.
John has a wealth of experience in the motor trade ranging from cars of the early 1900s to the modern day. He enjoys restoring, maintaining and using vehicles of the early period.
Currently John is learning to fly and has restored a small aircraft to flying condition.
Kyra has brought a wealth of knowledge to Heritage Skills Academy due to working in excess of 10 years within the classic sector and with a leading restoration company based near Bicester. Part of her previous job role was to manage two apprentices. Realising the importance of retaining the skill sets, Kyra changed job roles in June 2022 and is now the Operations Manager and works closely with Janice Pitchforth. Her job role is now to build strong links with employers, apprentices and assist with the recruitment process. There is never a dull day at Heritage Skills Academy and Kyra has become a vital team member.
Lead Development Coach
Tony having left school at sixteen and completed his Motor Vehicle Technician Apprenticeship while working at a Volvo main dealer, he then continued to work within the retail sector with Porsche Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Mercedes Benz.
While at Mercedes Benz he got the opportunity to work with the apprentices guiding them with skills he felt they were lacking and from this he moved on to working for manufacture's Apprenticeship Programs, VW Group, Mercedes-Benz; and then on to support apprentices within the Independent sector across the South of England , coaching and mentoring them to gain all the skills they required to achieve their individual qualifications.
“I feel that with all the experience I have gained with working with motor vehicle apprentices for the last 18 years, I’m in a position to step up to the standards of the Heritage Skills Academy and coach this unique group of apprentices successfully”
Steve is a very experienced automotive lecturer. Army trained and with an impressive record of success in developing and managing bespoke automotive programmes for many of the UK’s leading training companies.
His passion and enthusiasm for our engineering heritage is infectious and his teaching style ensures that apprentices are engaged and interested in the subjects they are learning.
Throughout his career, Steve has been involved in maintaining and restoring a broad range of vehicles. His passion is motorcycles which has involved him for many years in race teams and track training.
Rob has a passion for all things engineering with special interest in Vintage & Classic cars.
He served an engineering apprenticeship at British Leyland Longbridge where he gained his love of old Austin’s and now races a 1928 Heavy 12/4 Special which he built in his home workshop alongside his 73 Wolseley Six, Rob has built or restored many vintage vehicles over the years including close copies of T35 & T59 Bugatti’s.
Robs other passion is passing on his wide knowledge to apprentices having taught general engineering for 10 years and was also Centre Lead for most of that time before joining HSA. Rob is proud to have served on the committee of The Austin Ex-Apprentices Association for over 30 years.
Rob said “We need to pass on these skills to the next generations before they are lost forever, so this is my dream job”
Bob Johnson is an experienced Lecturer with 30 years experience of classic vehicle maintenance and restoration. Army trained, he has worked on a broad range of military, light and commercial vehicles alongside his passion for flying. Whilst working as a Lecturer Bob resumed restoring vehicles of both two and four wheels types ranging from Rally driver Paddy Hopkirk’s first vehicle (a 1924 Pultney, in which Paddy learnt to drive). A championship winning single seater hill climb car and an MGBGT followed by various 50’s and 60’s motorcycles and scooters including works racing motorcycles from Yamaha, Kawasaki and BSA.
Bob built a Tab Framed Honda 350K4 to compete at the Isle of Man Manx GP and raced it himself in England and now parades some of the race bike's he has restored for their owners as well as being a technical scrutineer for the CRMC.
Paul has worked in a wide range of companies in the motor trade either running my own businesses or training students and apprentices. He started off as an HGV apprentice with a truck importer during which time he restored his own Triumph Stag. He worked briefly in a small family run garage before starting my own business with a friend. As with a lot of small businesses there were no wages, but he did get a Brand-new Ford Capri 2.8 special as a company car.
During this time, Paul took his first stint at lecturing at Wycombe College. He moved more and more into restoring classic and sports cars and featured in Autocar with a fully restored MGA. Paul also worked in a main dealer and this evolved into starting another business specialising in SAABs.
An opportunity arose to manage an Injection Moulding company manufacturing parts for the car industry. During this time, Paul trained as a Paintless Dent Removal technician and left the company to follow this path setting up a business he still runs on a part time basis.
13 years ago Paul started to lecturer Motor Vehicle Technology in FE colleges in West London and continue this to this day. He joined Heritage Skills Academy in April 2019.
Matt has worked exclusively in the motor trade, for independent garages and specialists, gaining a wide range of knowledge and skills in older vehicles and modern classics. He has carried out military service, in a variety of theatres and later as a service engineer and restoration technician.
Matt has been teaching Motor Vehicle Studies in Further Education Colleges across the south of England for the last 20 years and has a wealth of teaching experience for students of all ages and abilities., delivering bespoke learning for individuals. He has a real passion for teaching the restoration of old vehicles, cars and motorcycles. Matt says” I enjoy showing our students what they can achieve especially with heritage vehicles, it’s a privilege to work with them”.
Grace started going to car events with her dad from a young age and got involved with UK Drag Racing teams as a teenager and is now a crew chief for a Plymouth Superbird which races at Santa Pod Raceway. She was part of her school team who built a plane and got to fly it, and this really helped her enthusiasm for Engineering along with winning 3 awards at her school’s Design and Technology exhibition for her A Level projects.
Employed at G&A Fabrications from 2016 to 2022 repairing and restoring historic race and road cars she also graded Distinction* in every unit of her Level 3 Engineering Apprenticeship at Brooklands College.
Grace joined HSA to pass on her skills specialising in fabrication, welding and traditional methods to hopefully encourage more people into the industry she is so passionate about preserving and expanding.