JCB today revealed it is pumping £3.5 million into recruiting more than 100 new young people into the business in 2012 - just as a set of 16-year-old triplets embark on their working lives as apprentices at the same JCB factory.
JCB is investing the money in a new 'Young Talent' programme that will see 103 young people join from September, either as graduates, sponsored undergraduates or apprentices.
The announcement comes as triplets Jack, Katie and Liam Rowe, who have been inseparable since their birth more than 16 years ago, have started apprenticeships at JCB - working not only at the same factory, JCB Heavy Products in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire …but all training to be welders.
Miles Pixley, JCB's HR Manager for Technical Excellence and Core Skills, said: "Developing young people is vital to the future of a global business like JCB and the amount being invested this year demonstrates just how serious we are about recruitment in this sector.
"We are implementing our 'Young Talent' programme against a back-drop of success with our existing graduate recruitment programmes which have enjoyed 100% retention over the past five years. The 103 new apprentices, graduates and undergraduates who join us later in 2012 are the future lifeblood of JCB and will build us into an even stronger company in the future."
Graduate training programmes will focus on developing expertise in powertrains, manufacturing, engineering, business and finance. As part of the Young Talent initiative JCB is more than doubling the number of apprenticeships it offers in the UK in 2012 as well as launching a brand new Higher Apprenticeship Scheme in September with the opportunity to study to degree level.
Among the skills being developed are mechanical and electrical maintenance; tool making and welding and fabricating. Apprentice quality engineers and fitters will also be recruited. In addition JCB will offer internships to another 27 young people during 2012.
Meanwhile the Rowe triplets are Level II apprentices receiving training in fabrication and welding and are being trained in all welding disciplines, completing their apprenticeships in June next year.
Jack said: "We've had a great reaction since we came to work here and everyone has been really helpful, giving us tips and advice on different techniques. I'd love to stay on and rise to become a team leader."
Katie, who is JCB's only female welding apprentice, said: "Everyone was surprised to hear that we were triplets and at first they didn't believe us."
Liam said: "I'm hopeful that I can be set on at the end of the apprenticeship and beat these two, get a higher position and be in charge of them!"
JCB Heavy Products Operations Manager Mike Mitchell said: "The advantage of recruiting at this age is that you can train to the high standard that a global business like JCB needs. All three are doing very well and getting a thorough grounding in core welding techniques."
The triplets were born by emergency Caesarean section almost three months prematurely on August, 23, 1995, each weighing not much more than a bag of sugar. They spent three months in hospital intensive care before parents Carol and Dave Rowe were allowed to bring them home to join 23-month-old brother Nathan. Sixteen years on and the popular triplets are raising a smile amongst workmates every morning as they arrive in convoy at JCB on 50cc scooters from their home in Dane Grove, Cheadle, Staffs.
Today dad Dave, 47, who was working as a nightshift team leader at JCB Heavy Products when the triplets were born, spoke of his pride that they were now working at JCB learning a key manufacturing skill.
Dave, who now works as a lorry driver, said: "We are so proud of them and they are very lucky to have apprenticeships at a company like JCB. The three of them have always been very close to one another and wherever one of them is, the others aren't far behind. JCB and my colleagues at the time were very, very good to me when the triplets were born and it's amazing now to think that 16 years later, all are training to be welders at the company and at the same factory."