Vehicles and transport

Motor vehicles have changed life beyond all recognition. Twenty miles used to be a day’s journey—now it’s a normal commute. Vehicle transport plays an essential role in most people’s lives, which explains how the industry has grown to such great size and importance. This section in the guide covers two distinct sectors: the automotive industry (or ‘retail motor industry’) and passenger transport.

The retail motor industry deals with all aspects of cars, vans and motorcycles as well as lorries and forklift trucks. It’s a broad area employing people who sell vehicles, fix and service them, fit new parts, and even rescue motorists. There’s a wide range of jobs on offer that span from technical to customer service roles. Depending on your interests and employer, you could find yourself selling BMWs for a large dealership, fixing cars after an accident, changing tyres, or rescuing stranded motorists from the hard shoulder of the M25. All of these roles require a deep understanding—to work in sales, you need to know your product inside and out, and to fix cars, you need the practical skills to diagnose and repair faults. Repairing heavy vehicle trailers and forklift trucks requires a different set of specialist skills.

The passenger transport sector is equally large, employing hundreds of thousands of people to run, drive, and support transport and travel, from aviation to rail and bus to coach. By choosing one of these apprenticeships, you could help keep the trains running safely and on time, or help air passengers receive their luggage in one piece when they arrive at their destination. Although there are some smaller transport companies, large national and international companies (for example, Network Rail) employ most people in this industry.

Many jobs in the sector involve some manual and mechanical skills. However, customer service and communication are also important. You’ll be coming face-to-face with the public in most jobs, so your people skills make a difference.

Lots of these roles require shift work and some antisocial hours—after all, cars break down all the time and someone has to load the baggage onto those 6am flights. However, the prospects are good and in some roles there are opportunities for national and international travel, too.

At a glance

  • There are more than 150 job roles in the motor industry working in offices, workshops, showrooms, receptions, on tracks and on the road working with cars, bikes, trucks and in motorsport
  • Many roles in the vehicles and transport sector require shift work
  • There may be opportunities for national and international travel


  • Have mechanical and technical skills
  • Be good at working with your hands and using tools
  • Understand engineering principles
  • Be good at diagnosing and solving problems
  • Have good customer service skills
  • Have IT skills
  • Work well with others and on your own
  • Be aware of health and safety

Useful contacts

BITA—The British Industrial Truck Association, a trade association for forklift truck manufacturers and suppliers

The Institute of the Motor Industry—Sector skills council for the automotive retail industry

People 1st—Skills and workforce development organisation for hospitality, passenger transport, leisure, retail, travel and tourism

Apprenticeships in Vehicles and transport

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