Kimberley Berry has a passion for cars and first started studying mechanics five years ago, aged 16. “I'd never done it before but it turned out I was pretty good at it,” she says.
This is something of an understatement because, currently, Kimberley is on course to finish a three-year Heavy Vehicle Technician apprenticeship with Mercedes-Benz.
During her apprenticeship, Kimberley — who works for delivery firm DPD as a Heavy Goods Vehicle Apprentice Technician — has been learning to diagnose and carry out repairs on Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles through a mix of theory and hands on experience. When she completes the course in August 2017, she will have achieved a Level 3 Advanced apprenticeship Framework and be qualified as a Mercedes-Benz Maintenance Technician. “It's part of my job to maintain and service a fleet of Mercedes-Benz parcel vehicles” says Kimberley. “I conduct engine inspections, and perform MOT pre-checks on a daily basis. So there's quite a bit to do.”
Earning while learning
DPD — which only runs Mercedes-Benz trucks — put Kimberley forward for her apprenticeship with the Company. To be considered for entry she had to display enthusiasm for mechanics outside work. “I do have experience in that area because I take part in drag racing in my spare time,” she says. “When I race, I also work on the cars; plus I work on my own classic car in my garage at home — and it helped that, before joining DPD, I studied motorsport at college.”
As part of her apprenticeship, she attends block training sessions at the Mercedes-Benz Apprentice Academy in Milton Keynes. “I enjoy it because I get a chance to work one-to-one with my tutors and I learn a lot more that way,” says Kimberley who will return to her role at DPD when the course finishes. “And I like the fact that I have a job while I'm studying for a qualification. I believe that apprenticeships are the way forward.”
Treated the same
Kimberley admits that the number of women on the course is low; although, at Mercedes-Benz, female apprentices have been increasing in recent years. In 2012 women represented 1.5% of apprentices recruited (the industry average was — and remains — 2%). In 2015 however, females represented 4.5% of Mercedes-Benz apprentices recruited; and, at last year's Mercedes-Benz Apprentice of the Year Awards, the winner of Light Vehicle Technician was female.
“There are a handful of women on the apprenticeship, so it's not a completely male dominated environment,” says Kimberley. ”There’s a great positive atmosphere in the workshop. I really enjoy it!”