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From apprentice to CEO: Andy Palmer’s story

This is a guest blog from Andy Palmer, CEO of Switch Mobility

I feel very privileged to have had a great career. And I believe I owe it all to my decision to become an apprentice at 16.

I’ve always felt lucky to have started as an apprentice because you learn how everything works. Not just mechanically, but people, the shop floor, the key relationships. I’ve carried that knowledge with me throughout my career – from the shop floor to the boardroom.

I see so many benefits of work-based training for both adults and employers. The wide range of skills and training schemes available today benefit both you – and employers – and cover hundreds of job roles and occupations too.  Stick at it, like I did, and with an apprenticeship, you could gain up to a degree qualification, whilst earning a salary.

There are so many other training opportunities too, such as Skills Bootcamps, which fast-track your technical, digital or green skills; or Essential Digital Skills Qualifications, which help you gain the core computer skills you need for the world of work. Whether you want to learn at home, in a classroom, or on the job, there are lots of government-funded skills opportunities to choose from to unlock your potential and help you get a better job.

My passion is, and always has been, engineering. I’ve been called “the Godfather of Electric Vehicles”, because as Chief Operating Officer at Nissan, I was responsible for the LEAF, which was the world’s best-selling Electric Vehicle. After that I went on to be the CEO of Aston Martin and now I’m the CEO of a new startup, Switch Mobility. In each of these positions I have used my love of engineering and the skills I learnt at the start of my career to do the best job I can.

I look back on my apprenticeship as some of the happiest years of my life. It was a win-win, for me and my employer. I see the difference having skills can make. And I’ve now set up the Palmer Foundation as a charity for young people from difficult backgrounds.  Helping others get an apprenticeship in the automotive industry means I am part of a team that’s developing the next generation of skilled craftspeople the industry needs.

And now there are many more opportunities available to gain skills for life and help find a career that you’ll love. If you’re looking to gain new skills and unlock a better way ahead, you can find hundreds of free opportunities from essential to specialist skills.

Or if you’re an employer, find out about training and employment schemes to help your business grow at


Andy featured in the Skills for Life campaign, in a short film and article for the Times.