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It's National Apprenticeship Week

It’s the 12th annual National Apprenticeship Week with the theme ‘Blaze A Trail’ which aims to highlight the incredible opportunities doing an apprenticeship can bring - both for individuals firing up their careers, and for employers blazing a trail in their business and reaping the benefits of employing an apprentice.

Below are activities that two of our commercial members have been undertaking during this week.


Three budding agricultural engineers from AGCO explain why they have chosen to follow a path that promises to lead to a successful career for the rest of their working lives.

The AGCO Academy Apprenticeship is now in its 20th year, and in partnership with WCG (formerly Warwickshire College Group), has been the starting point for some of the most highly-respected and sought-after agricultural engineers in the sector.

It combines classroom and workshop training with practical, work-based development to lay the foundations of a successful career, working with such brands as Massey Ferguson, Fendt and Valtra.

Supported by AGCO’s nationwide network of service dealerships, the AGCO apprenticeship scheme offers aspiring engineers the opportunity to build a rewarding vocation, often in a sector they had not considered. It is important to remind school-leavers, engineering goes beyond the automotive industry!

But why choose a career in agricultural engineering, and what are the prospects?

Luke Lovell, 17, a former pupil at Thirsk School and Sixth Form College, applied for his apprenticeship role with Brockhills of Yorkshire Ltd via a Facebook advert.

“Brockhills have employed new staff directly and put them straight onto the apprenticeship scheme, and there currently is one other in the third year at the moment, so I was confident this was a good opportunity,” explains Luke.

Similarly, 17-year-old Tom Voase of P&B’s Halsham depot in Hull, noted the track-record of his employer in developing staff through the AGCO apprenticeship, “I was fortunate enough to get the position at the Halsham depot, and soon realised that several of the technicians had either completed or were undertaking the AGCO apprenticeship scheme,” explains Tom.

In fact, P&B even run their own Apprentice of the Year Award, demonstrating the importance the business places on the need to develop highly-skilled agricultural technicians. There are currently eight apprentices from P&B in AGCO’s Year 1 Cohort alone.

George Fenner, also 17 and a fellow AGCO Year 1 apprentice, started working one day a week for RW Crawford’s Essex depot on leaving school, before being offered the opportunity to join the apprenticeship scheme.

“At this stage of my career, a lot of my time is spent shadowing colleagues, and learning from their experiences. My apprenticeship helps me to develop these skills, and having access to the relevant equipment really does help,” explains George.

Tim Hutchinson, course leader of the scheme at WCG explains, “So far with the Year 1 Cohort, we have had two blocks at college, the first an induction period when we introduced the group to the basics such as tractor driving, hitching and getting to grips with the controls. We also look at basic servicing, such as oil changes and air filtration, but it is much more about getting to know each other.”

He continues, “In the second block, we start introducing more of the practical elements. We have been looking at cooling systems, and other kit such as drills, sprayers and spreaders. It is at this stage that the group can really begin putting their Academy training into practical use when they return to their dealership.

“It will be interesting to see how they have applied this training when they return to the classroom in April and May. We will then be looking at braking systems and transmission clutches.”

Mr Hutchinson continues, “We are very proud of our track-record and are really keen to allow others to follow the progress of our latest group of apprentices as they start to develop their careers.

“Many of these guys will be working alongside and in the footsteps of colleagues who have successfully completed their apprenticeship with AGCO and WCG, and are now enjoying a successful career in a highly sought-after sector.”

Anthony Linfield, AGCO’s training development manager, adds, “Time-served land-based engineers that progress and demonstrate high levels of expertise are a tremendous asset to all of us in the industry. Moreover, they are much in demand, and if Luke, Tom and George successfully complete their qualification, they can look forward to a rewarding career.”

A record-breaking group of JCB apprentices had two reasons to celebrate at the launch of National Apprenticeships Week on Monday (March 4th).


At JCB a total of 79 apprentices were awarded their apprenticeship certificates – at the same time as getting coveted contracts of employment with the Staffordshire-based digger maker.

The group is the biggest in the history of JCB to graduate as Level 2 and 3 apprentices in a single year. They received their awards from JCB directors at a special graduation ceremony at JCB’s World Headquarters, Rocester.

JCB has a long history of recruiting apprentices and this year marks 55 years since the first intake of nine completed their training and were presented with their apprenticeship certificates by company founder Joseph Cyril Bamford.

JCB Chief Executive Graeme Macdonald said: “New talent joining the business is fundamental to JCB’s future growth and success; our business is growing rapidly and the apprentices are an important part of our plans for the long term.  Over the past five years JCB has invested £30 million into its training programmes with more than 700 new recruits joining the business as apprentices or graduates. Their commitment to learning has been exemplary and their hard work has paid off with the award of full-time contracts.”

JCB Director of Learning and Development, Max Jeffery said: “The apprentices who have been awarded full-time contracts range from age 18 to 38 and include a former professional rugby player, pub landlord and cleaner as well former students from the JCB Academy. The diversity of this year’s graduating apprentices shows this is a great route into a new and promising career – no matter what your background, age or experience.”

Apprentices offered contracts include:

·        Adam Parkins, 29, from Alfreton, Derbyshire. Married with four young children, he left school aged 16 to pursue a professional rugby career with Premiership clubs Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints, where he remained until he was 27.  He is now a welder and assembler working on the iconic JCB Loadall production line, at Rocester.

·        Wesley Hemmings-Topliss, 19, from Burton. Having studied a BTEC at college, the former Thomas Alleynes High School, Uttoxeter, student found work as an office cleaner at JCB. He saw his friends studying apprenticeships with the company and decided he wanted a career making the machines too. He is now a welder in the JCB Hydraulic Business Unit, at Rocester.

·        Tom Clarke, 29, from Stafford, a former team leader at Screwfix, Stafford, where he was in charge of almost 100 people. Tom has become JCB’s first Level 2 Health and Safety Apprentice with the company’s Loadall division, at Rocester.