Palmer Foundation Engineering Village

NEWS2021-03-22

We are very proud to be playing host to the Palmer Foundation’s official launch at the Yorkshire Motorsport Festival this June. The Foundation’s Engineering Village will take up a prominent position within the Festival grounds.

The Palmer Foundation is the brainchild of Dr. Andy Palmer, an official YMSF Ambassador, with a deep pedigree in the Automotive Industry. As former Chief Operating Officer of Nissan Motor Company, former president and CEO of Aston Martin, current chairman of Switch Mobility (formerly Optare), current non-executive director of Ashok Leyland and SBD Automotive, and current non-executive vice-chairman of Slovakian electric vehicle battery developer, InoBat, among other things, Andy knows a thing or two about the inner workings of the international automotive industry.

Andy’s one of a rare breed of executives who have worked their way from the bottom to the top. Having started his career as a 16-year-old technical apprentice for Automotive Products plc, he is as adept under a car bonnet as he is in the boardroom. The mission of the Palmer Foundation is to enable the youth of today to experience that journey with all the experience, assistance, knowledge and education that the Palmer Foundation is uniquely placed to provide.

In an interview with YMSF, Andy explained, “the automotive industry is predominantly populated with well-educated white middle-class males. There is a prejudice towards academically orientated kids from top universities. The industry isn’t benefitting from disadvantaged kids, both male and female, from diverse ethnicities.”

“I believe,” he continued, “that this is because they’re not steered towards automotive engineering industry sector for various reasons. The sector includes Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). STEM subjects are not perceived as ‘cool’ with a combination of parents displaying a societal bias against their daughters entering the engineering sector in general, coupled with a shortage of science and maths teachers generally, in the educational system.”

Andy’s underlying principles are that, “the Foundation will have a meritocratic approach to drawing people into the Engineering and Automotive industry. We will actively seek out STEM talent among youngsters aged 14 to 19 experiencing social, economic and/or educational hardship, facilitating the provision of apprenticeships, training and support in the field of engineering and associated fields for them.”

Andy has a clear plan in mind to achieve the Palmer Foundation’s objectives. He will personally act as a guide and mentor to those selected for the programme and arrange access to other significant industry players for lectures on a variety of topics. At the same time, they will receive pointers on etiquette, dress code, CV writing, and a whole host of other life skills. Once the students have completed their GCSEs, they will be assisted in applying for apprenticeships. The Palmer Foundation will fund two years of apprenticeship on existing apprenticeship programmes with well-established automotive manufacturers.

At 18 years of age, the Palmer Foundation’s students will either join a 3- year University graduate course, or continue as an apprentice for a further two years. “By the time they exit the programme,” says Andy, “they will be well equipped for the business and commercial world on a level with any graduates from the traditional academic institutions.”

The Palmer Foundation is currently funded entirely by Andy’s own resources, but Andy would also like to encourage automotive and (engineering based) companies willing to provide apprenticeship placements and those interested in supporting the Palmer Foundation, financially or in any other way, to come along to YMSF and meet him for a chat. Andy will be joined at the Festival by various Universities, including the historic Bolton University Formula 1 team and various other exciting engineering-related displays.

Teenagers (and parents!) interested in the programme that the Palmer Foundation has to offer are invited to visit the Palmer Foundation Engineering Village at YMSF for more information When asked for his thoughts on the future of the industry, Andy was quick to answer. “Gen Z has fallen out of love with the car and traditional automotive. It’s time for the industry to pivot,” he said. Andy continued “the Industry needs to stop focusing on the idea of the freedom of the road, and on speed. Millennials and Gen Z need to perceive the industry as vocational, rather than just another job, encompassing a fundamental move towards positively helping society and mother earth.”

As Andy is keen to point out – “We already know that the industry is capable of rapid technological change, but it needs a cultural change to survive.” Andy’s actions speak louder than words, and provide irrefutable evidence of his ability to deliver his stated objectives for the Palmer Foundation. Andy has been deeply focused on democratising net zero carbon for many years. While at Nissan, he spearheaded the development of the modern era's first electric vehicle (EV), the Nissan Leaf, way ahead of Tesla. As the head of the 100% EV bus company Switch Mobility (formerly Optare), and EV battery developer Inobat, Andy is once again deeply involved in the sustainability space.

“My aim now is to do good and make the car, transport and plant industries more environmentally viable,” he said. “There are a lot of misconceptions of EVs and vehicle emissions, and there’s a lot to be done in terms of education and lobbying Governments.”

On what he’s most excited to see at YMSF 2021, Andy says, “A day in heaven for me is to sit at the side of the track and watch cars race past. So, once the business of the day is over, I will probably disappear and take in the noise, smells, and sights along the track.”

Looking to the future and the move towards a green economy, he mused, “I hope we can find synthetic fuels that will allow us to keep enjoying these sights and smells in a generations’ time.” Commenting on the UK Government's recent announcements of its goals for a green economy, Andy pointed out that the Government could turn public transport green tomorrow. This would significantly reduce carbon emissions, air pollution, asthma, and various other childhood diseases. But he questioned whether or not the political will exists to make that spending happen now. “I have no problem with long term Government plans,” he said, “but, if they’re going to talk the talk, then they need to start walking the walk today.” And, as an environmentally focussed motorsport Festival, we at YMSF wholeheartedly endorse those sentiments.

For further information. or to donate to the Palmer Foundation via Virgin Money Giving, please see: https://palmerfoundation.org.uk.

For information on showcasing your engineering or motorsport brand within the Village, please contact the Yorkshire Motorsport Festival directly on engineering@ymsf.net.

Click the button above to buy your YSMF 2021 tickets today.

Sign up to our latest news

Keep up to date with the latest Yorkshire Motorsport Festival news, celebrity interviews, and vehicle line-up by subscribing to our free newsletter. Unsubscribe at any time.

I AGREE TO RECEIVE NEWS AND UPDATES FROM YORKSHIRE MOTORSPORT FESTIVAL