When we came up with the idea four years ago, we were instantly convinced that the Autocar-Courland Next Generation Award, a competition designed to attract soon-to-graduate university students to jobs in the car industry, could become very successful, very soon. Yet it’s fair to say the competition has become much more successful than any of us imagined — in three key ways. 

First, it has attracted far more notice than we ever expected. That has meant its sponsors (who this year will provide a £7500 prize plus a total of six months’ work experience for the winner) have become bigger and more influential. This, in turn, has guaranteed the winner a truly high-powered experience of work in this most vital of industries — and in turn increased the attraction of the competition to top quality students. It’s a virtuous circle.

Just listen to the experience of last year’s Next Gen winner, Oliver Brunt, who impressed the judges with a new form of “social head-up display” or SHUD for short: “The diversity of the Next Gen work experience is giving me a broader understanding not just of the car industry but of many industries. New doors are opening for me all the time. The contacts are priceless.”

It’s time now for you, if you want to be considered for the 2012 competition, to get serious. First, you must study the competition regulations at nextgen.autocar.co.uk, where you can discover how to enter and follow steps that could point you towards a brand new career in the motor industry. No point in pretending it’s easy. We’re expecting you to produce a relatively short but high quality piece of original work — proposing refinements or improvements to the motor business — and present it to our judges. They will assess your effort in several stages, eventually passing you through, if you’re good enough, to a final decision day when six finalists will present their ideas to the expert panel at Autocar HQ that decides the winner, who will be identified at the glittering SMMT dinner for 1000 motoring executives in London during November.