The Royal Family, the Beckhams and James Bond – just a few of the many people who share a fascination for Bentley. The greatest passion, however, is found among the employees who help to create these luxury vehicles. To ensure that it can continue to produce world-class automobiles in the future, Bentley Motors invests extensively in developing young talent for its workforce. Until recently, Chris Coates was one of them: young, ambitious and talented. So talented, in fact, that he reached the finals of the “World Skills” vocational competition, a clear indication that he is among the best in his field.
When asked why he decided to join Bentley, Chris Coates does not need long to answer: “Bentley isn’t just any car company. The sheer beauty of the vehicles, the craftsmanship, the team spirit – I loved all of this from the very beginning.” Crewe, a town in Northwest England with 70,000 inhabitants, is home to Bentley Motors. Over 3,000 people are employed in the production facilities concealed behind the red brick walls of the time-honored British carmaker. All employees wear the dark green polo shirt bearing a winged “B”, the Bentley logo. Including 21-year-old Chris, a few months ago still a regular vocational trainee – red hair, freckles, a passionate amateur footballer and Manchester United fan.
IT ALL COMES DOWN TO KNOW-HOW, PRECISION AND SKILL
A PROUD FINALIST
Last year, Chris Coates
represented his home town and
Bentley at the WorldSkills in
Chris is an unassuming, hands-on type. At Bentley, he mans the large CNC milling machines, a job that calls for both skill and technical know-how. Chris’s talent is such that he came first in his discipline in last year’s “UK Skills” competition, thereby qualifying for the international “WorldSkills” event. Every two years, young technical specialists from over 50 countries demonstrate their skills in their chosen fields. Last September saw Chris travel to Calgary for the world finals: “That really was an emotional roller coaster ride,” he recalls. “When I was preparing for the competition, I did have the occasional doubt. But it was definitely worth all the hard work to make it to the finals in Canada and to measure myself against the best in the world.”
According to Chris’s vocational trainer, Andrew McLean – a toolmaking and prototype specialist at Bentley who accompanied his charge to Canada – this experience brought about a noticeable change in the young man. “He has become more confident, but he’s still got a sensible head on his shoulders.” McLean (46) has worked at the company for nearly 30 years. He attributes Chris’s qualification for the WorldSkills above all to Bentley’s superior vocational training: “From my very first day, I sensed that the company helps each of its employees to bring out the best in themselves. If you want to make headway, you’ll have all the support you need. And here at Bentley, there’s a very real interest in what you’re doing.” This is readily confirmed by Elliot New, one of the company’s current crop of 48 vocational trainees: “All of our colleagues followed the competition closely and kept their fingers crossed. Even the Board members always wanted to know how things were going.” Like Chris, Elliot (20) works on the CNC machines and wants to take part in the WorldSkills next year. He has already begun training for the event.