Skilled Technicians Crucial to Future of Industry
11 AGCO apprentices received their apprenticeship awards at a ceremony held in the grand surroundings of Coombe Abbey Hotel, Warwickshire in December 2016.
Industry experts and training professionals from across the agriculture sector told the audience during the AGCO Academy Apprentice Awards ceremony, that the importance of high service levels at agricultural dealerships is crucial to the future success of the industry, and this is underpinned by the emergence of newly qualified dealership technicians.
During the awards ceremony, hosted by AGCO in the 17th year of its industry recognised apprenticeship scheme, recently qualified apprentices and guests heard from a number of keynote speakers about the importance of bringing in and retaining young agricultural engineers to the industry.
Freddie Pullan, AGCO’s technical training manager, told the audience that the investment AGCO places in its apprenticeships scheme is fundamental to its future plans, particularly in the crucial UK and Irish markets.
“New technicians are the key component to the success of our dealership networks, so we place huge investment in the apprenticeships, as do our dealers. But equally we get the returns in terms of the most skilled technicians coming out at the end of their training.”
The apprenticeship scheme combines classroom and workshop based training at Warwickshire & Worcestershire College Group’s (WCG) Moreton Morrell campus and practical on-going training at the apprentices’ dealership. It is co-ordinated by course leader Tim Hutchinson of WCG in conjunction with the AGCO training team.
The big winners on the day, B&B Tractors of Warsop, Nottinghamshire, echoed Mr Pullan’s comments. The Massey Ferguson, Challenger and Fendt dealership has four depots covering a customer base over eight counties, and was delighted to see its apprentices pick up two of the key awards at the ceremony.
James Booth, based at B&B’s Tideswell depot in Derbyshire, picked up the prestigious Apprentice of the Year Award, while his colleague Jonathan Cook, based at the company’s head depot in Warsop, collected the Most Improved Apprentice of the Year Award.
They were joined by B&B Tractors’ group after-sales manager Andrew Walker, and group services manager Barry Hammond, who were justifiably proud. “We have been using the AGCO apprenticeship scheme since 2011, and have now had eight qualified technicians come through the scheme,” said Mr Walker.
“We are delighted for both Jonathan and James. We were hopeful one would pick up an award, but for both to do so is a real reflection of their efforts. We have really seen the difference, particularly in their third year as they have come back to the depots and put into practice what they have learnt at Moreton Morrell. We can’t thank Tim Hutchinson and the team at WCG enough, and of course the team at AGCO.”
The other key winner on the day was Glasgow-based Matt Griffin, who was voted by his peers as the Apprentices’ Apprentice of the Year.
Tim Hutchinson said,
“One of the key benefits of the scheme and the course is that it is a combined effort. The apprentices on the course want to succeed and they can see a clear career path. Their dealerships and AGCO therefore equally benefit from committed and skilled technicians joining their teams at the end of their training.
“Another factor is the mix of apprentices we have, in terms of interests and geographical base. We have had apprentices from the Orkney Islands, from Dover, from Truro and everywhere in-between. This tends to engender a real bond. More often than not the students become friends for life, often calling on each other as they know one person has a special expertise in a certain area.”
Tony Linfield, AGCO’s training development manager said,
“We want to encourage youngsters to stay on in the agriculture industry – do something practical, get paid but also receive a qualification. It also demonstrates our commitment to our network of dealers – they are incredibly important to us and we want them to have the very best staff that they can.
“At the end of the programme the apprentices will work for their dealerships. They will be trained as dealership technicians and prospects are good – they could be earning £40,000/£50,000 a year. Especially at the bigger dealers, there are good prospects”.
Earlier the audience heard from Jane Murphy, business development manager at WCG, as she paid testament to the relationship the college group has had with AGCO over 17 years, and before that directly with AGCO brand Massey Ferguson.
She was then followed by Keith Christian, Director of BAGMA (British Agricultural and Garden Machinery Association). He also paid tribute to the work AGCO undertakes, in conjunction with other organisations, to ensure training standards remain high into the future.
Mr Christian pointed out that the majority of farmers and customers want to be working with an agricultural dealership within a 25 mile radius of their base, and they require a quick response when things go wrong.
“The only way this can happen is to have new, skilled technicians within the sales chain,” confirmed Mr Christian, recognising the crucial role the AGCO Apprenticeship Programme plays in the industry.
The AGCO Academy Apprenticeship Awards ceremony took place at Coombe Abbey Hotel in Binley, Warwickshire on Thursday 15th December, and was kindly sponsored by Draper Tools.