At this year’s Midlands Machinery Show, the next generation of agricultural engineers will be celebrated with an award ceremony said to be vital for promoting careers in the industry.
Machinery firms are struggling to recruit and Andrew Silvester, academy manager at Chandlers, said: “I taught agricultural engineering apprentices for seven years at Riseholme College – the highest number was 21 at any one time. During that time we had lots of successful candidates enter apprentice awards at the Midlands Machinery Show.”
Having joined Chandlers last year to run the company’s apprenticeship programme, he added that he is passionate about educating the next generation. “There’s a vast shortage of engineers in the country and across the world.
“Students tend to learn better in the workplace because they’re mentored constantly, it’s education 24/7 really. It’s not just learning about being an engineer, it’s learning about life at the same time as learning about machinery, repairs and safety.
“It’s a win-win for me because if a student is committed to it, there’s no better way to learn and get paid. Most companies pay for everything they need.”
Mr Silvester explained that as an industry, we are notoriously bad at promoting ourselves. “We recognise that, so we are trying to improve it. A lot of manufacturers are getting together now and offering more training.
“For me, I wanted to create a career path for apprentices – not just the three years of college, but what comes after. We have skilled, advanced and master – so it’s an eight-year career path.”
And this clear career path can be good for retention. “I think once they’ve reached the end of those eight years they’re more likely to stay in the industry.”
The apprentice awards at the Midlands Machinery Show are another method to promote the industry, he said. “I encourage the apprentices to apply, it’s for their own benefit and there’s a great financial bursary because tools are expensive and that’s what they can use their reward for.”
Last year’s awards saw six students accept a cheque for £250 each – the first in a two-year instalment totalling £500. One of them was Stella Hubbard, who works at Farol as a John Deere apprentice. “At the age of five I would come into Farol with my dad and assist with picking parts for jobs/ customers,” she says. “During school I developed an interest in metal work and design and took a particular interest in removing and installing components.”
Having worked at John Deere in both Australia and the UK, she is now enjoying being given the independence to carry out jobs by herself. “I would like to inspire more women to take on this career. I would also love to own my own farm and develop a career in farming.”
And Chandlers boasted two apprentice winners last year; Kieran Snowden at the Grantham depot and Zac Elsdon at Holbeach. “It makes me very proud that the work I do helps farmers to carry on working and put food on our tables,” says Mr Snowden. “It was a great honour to have been selected for this award and will help me progress in my career as well as giving me confidence that the industry is behind me.”
Entries for the apprentice awards are open until 14 October 2022 for any agricultural apprentice aged 17-25 who is living and working in the Midlands region, said Elizabeth Halsall, show organiser. “Supporting aspiring agricultural engineers is vital for the future of the industry and our awards recognise up-and-coming talent within the sector.”
For more information go to www.midlandsmachineryshow.com