Keeping up with the Germans

I suppose you have to concede that Formula One's top driver is German and, let's face it, the most glamorous racing circuit is undoubtedly Monaco.

So what have us British motor racing fans got to get excited about, apart from sitting in a traffic jam on the way to a rainy day out at Silverstone, a Pounds 2.50 hot dog and a chance to watch Michael Schumacher whizzing past on his way to another victory?

The days of Jackie Stewart may be long gone, but much of the technical skill which keeps racing cars on the track is British.

This is due in no small part to the National College for Motorsport - made up of Milton Keynes college, Oxford and Cherwell college and the Tresham Institute of Further and Higher Education.

Their students go on to work as technicians and in other trades at the trackside, and the standards of training have made the colleges the toast of the motor racing industry.

Not quite up to speed though is the PR operation conducted on their behalf, which last week involved the dashing out of an email about the "recent awarding of Centre of Vocational Excellence (CoVE) status" to the colleges by the Learning and Skills Council.

According to the LSC, the CoVE status was actually awarded more than a year ago - the last time the accompanying press release went out.

Away from the hype, though, it is good to know that the brilliance of further education's technical training is not restricted to the world of motorsport. In the Midlands, a group of apprenticeship task force and LSC people recently enjoyed an outing to their local BMW engine factory - no doubt hoping they would learn a little bit of German efficiency.

Actually, much of the talent behind the famously reliable engines is from a little closer to home - with much of the workforce trained by Sutton Coldfield college and City college Coventry.

I'm told the Germans are "delighted" with the quality of their trainees.

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