A lifetime ambition to become a mechanic is a step closer for school-leaver Sean Stacey, who has won an apprenticeship with HiQ after gaining vital experience with an innovative motoring charity.

At just 16-years-old, Sean already has garage experience, a Level 1 ¬Certificate in Light Vehicle ¬maintenance and workplace health and safety training.

He was able to study motor mechanics at the same time as ¬studying for his GCSEs when it was offered as an option in Year 10 at Highcrest Academy in High Wycombe, Bucks.

The weekly classes were provided by Skidz in its own workshops. The charity, which launched 14 years ago in response to a surge in car crime in the area, has since evolved into an important educational programme offering motor courses to schools and colleges locally.

With 87% of students in the four years from 2009 to 2012 going on to further education, training or finding employment, Skidz chief executive Graham Andrews is confident they have a winning formula to help combat the problem of the 1.2 million Neets (young people aged 16-to-24 not in education, employment or training). Skidz helps young people steer clear of becoming a statistic by developing these important life skills alongside practical training.

The value of its work is recognised by its patrons, rally driving legend Paddy Hopkirk, Mercedes AMG Formula One boss Ross Brawn and TV presenter Johnny Ball.

HiQ High Wycombe owner Ikhlaq Khan offered Sean his apprenticeship following a short trial at the garage.

It is the second one he has offered a Skidz student â�" his assistant manager Jordan ¬McBarnett is also a product of the scheme.

He says taking on school leavers is difficult because they have to have someone with them all the time, watching everything they do. Sean will be working with a mechanic, but as he knows the safety procedures already this will make things a little easier.

Jordan says: “Once I was out of ¬mainstream education I knew I had to focus on my future.

“Skidz helped me a lot and allowed me to do what I really enjoyed. It also helped me with mock interviews when I was looking for an apprenticeship. I can’t really say what I would be doing now if I hadn’t had that opportunity.”