From apprentice to master

As a youngster growing up in Zimbabwe, Tim Traher would help his grandfather fix his old petrol-driven lawnmower. From lawnmowers, Tim graduated to stripping down and repairing the motorbikes he and his brothers would ride around in their spare time. “When I was growing up, if you wanted something fixed, you fixed it yourself,” he says. This interest in mechanics and inquisitive approach to problem solving has stayed with Tim and has played a key role in him becoming a Master Technician at Volvo Cars

Name: Tim Traher
Age: 35
Job: Master Technician / Workshop Control
Volvo Dealership: Cecil and Larter, Suffolk, England

Special areas of interest:
Problem solving, fault tracing and dealing directly with customers.

Most satisfying part of your job:
Handing a customer their keys after fixing a problem no one else could solve.

"The Volvo Apprenticeship Programme is second to none. It has been very rewarding and the instructors have always allowed me to push myself."




When Tim left school, he knew he wanted to be a mechanic. But it wasn’t until he moved to the UK when he was 17 that his career really began to take shape. After sending out CVs and applying for apprenticeships in person at local garages, Tim was offered an apprenticeship at Cecil and Larter, an authorised Volvo dealership based in Suffolk, England, which has been in business for an incredible 90 years. Tim is still employed there today.  

Tim’s apprenticeship with Volvo Cars began in 2001, where he was one of the first apprentices to take part in the new Volvo Apprenticeship Programme, which is still the same programme apprentices enrol in today.  

“During my apprenticeship, I worked at the same Volvo dealership with the same apprentices for three years, which meant we got to know each other really well,” explains Tim. “We were taught by experienced Volvo trainers and trained on Volvo cars. We had our own Volvo apprentice workshop and all the training was done on Volvo engines and gearboxes using Volvo literature. I really liked the programme and did well because it was something I really enjoyed learning about.” 


In 2004, Tim qualified as a mechanic, completing Volvo competency levels 1 and 2. But Tim had higher ambitions. “Ever since I joined Volvo Cars, my goal has been to become a Master Technician,” he says. 

So, after completing his apprenticeship, Tim enrolled in another training programme to become a Level 3 Diagnostician. “That course lasted two years,” explains Tim. “During that time, I also managed to complete my level 4 competency book, which allowed me to take my Master Technician Assessment. When I passed, I became one of the youngest Volvo Master Technicians in the UK at that time.” 

But even as a fully qualified Master Technician, there are still things to learn. “As one of my Volvo instructors says, ‘Every day’s a school day’. And he’s right. I learn something new every day. Just because you’re a Master Tech doesn’t mean you know it all!”



To help Tim stay informed and up-to-date with new working methods and the latest technology, he receives regular training – both at the dealership and at the Volvo Cars training centre in Daventry. 

“The training is a combination of web-based learning and instructor-led courses set in Volvo’s training centre. Web-based training can be done whenever you want and is an effective way of getting quick updates on new features and new models. The instructor-led courses are more in depth and run from 1-3 days depending on the course. The information taught on these courses is always relevant and up-to-date and the instructors are all very experienced. But the best thing is you are trained to deal with situations you are actually going to encounter in your normal working day.”



So, what skills does Tim believe a Master Technician should have? 

“Well, you have to like problem solving! And you have to able to think outside of the box. Everyday there is something new. You have to be good at extracting information from the customer without making them feel as though they are getting bombarded with 100 questions.”

And what advice would Tim give to people considering becoming a Volvo Cars apprentice? 

“It’s no walk in the park but the rewards are well worth it. If you love cars, problem solving and new challenges, then this is the job for you. You get out what you put in. Both Volvo Cars and the dealership where I am employed have been excellent to work for and be a part of. I currently have 17 years of experience and I am looking forward to many more within the Volvo network.” 

You can’t really get higher praise than that.