Are you a young person aged 17-25, hankering after a challenging career in the car business? Would you like to receive the very best help Autocar can possibly give you?

Answer yes to both, and I’d say you were an ideal candidate to enter the latest Autocar-Courland Next Generation Award, the competition we dreamed up a few years ago with our people-search partners, Courland International, to attract young talent into what is arguably the UK’s most vibrant, go-ahead industry.

The rewards are mighty. The winner gets a cash prize of £9000 plus a month’s work experience with each of the award’s six motoring sponsors: Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, McLaren, Peugeot, Skoda and Toyota.

Each of six finalists makes invaluable motor industry contacts, gets career help from Courland and can cite their status as a NextGen finalist on a CV, an increasingly important achievement.

Our hope, as the competition’s organisers, is that as the winner travels around the industry on work experience, he or she will fit so well into the workforce at one or more of the sponsoring companies (all of which greatly value top young talent) that the visit will lead to a permanent position. It has happened repeatedly since the competition began in 2009.

In fact, NextGen has become so well known in the motor industry — not least because its winner is introduced in front of 1000 industry leaders at the annual dinner of the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders — that a large proportion of entrants have found high-achieving jobs in the motor industry.

Last year’s winner, Nicole Agba, has just finished her month-long placement with McLaren Automotive and it’s described in next week’s Autocar, as well as being published online.

How do you win? The competition challenges you to devise and describe an original idea that could improve the UK car business in some way, and explain how it works in a short, 500-word submission.

If you get through an early judging phase, you’ll be invited to flesh the idea out with research and more detailed thinking — enough to present it convincingly, and in person, to a panel of industry experts. If you’re chosen as one of six finalists, you’ll present again at a final judging session.

If you make the last three, you’ll be invited to don your penguin-suit and join two more at the SMMT dinner in November to learn if you’ve won.