A total of 28 young service technicians have graduated from the latest John Deere Ag Tech, Parts Tech and Turf Tech advanced apprenticeship programmes, run by national training provider Babcock. Alistair Baillie from dealer Thomas Sherriff & Co Ltd in Alnwick, Northumberland was named ag & turf apprentice of the year for 2014, while parts apprentice of the year was Mike King of Ben Burgess Newmarket in Suffolk.
The group of third year students received their certificates at the John Deere Forum visitor centre in Mannheim, Germany during a specially arranged visit to the company's tractor and cab factories and European Parts Distribution Centre (EPDC). The presentations were made by Deere & Company's regional training delivery manager Dr Lutz Schueppenhauer, John Deere Limited training manager Richard Halsall and marketing manager Chris Wiltshire, and Babcock programme manager Guy Schornig-Moore.
Alistair Baillie received a crystal plaque, a certificate and vouchers for workshop tools worth £250. "It has been an absolute pleasure to guide Alistair Baillie through the last three years, he's been a model student," said vocational learning advisor (VLA) Steve Burke. "Throughout, Alistair has always produced quality work on time and to the standard required, and the accolade of Apprentice of the Year is just reward for his efforts, not only for year 3 but from the outset.
"Thomas Sherriff as his employer also deserve a mention - they have wholeheartedly embraced the John Deere apprentice programme and supported not only Alistair but all of the apprentices across their dealerships."
Thomas Sherriff branch manager Andy Hedgecock added: "The John Deere engineering apprenticeship programme has given our new apprentices an excellent training platform. Alistair has shown great enthusiasm for the programme, combined with a positive approach to the training workload. He has matured into a genuine asset to our company and we are all very proud of his achievements and success."
Mike King received a certificate and shopping vouchers worth £250. "Mike King is an exceptional apprentice and, in my opinion, already an asset to both John Deere and Ben Burgess," says vocational coach (parts) Paul Clayman. "He never disappoints with the quality of his work or the enthusiasm shown to produce results. It would be hard to find a more passionate person with regard to the franchise and satisfying customer demand with a high level of service."
Ben Burgess & Co service director Jimmy Lockhart added: "Mike has worked extremely hard and we're very proud of his fantastic achievement. We're sure that it will encourage our current apprentices to aim just as high, as Mike has become a vital asset to our parts team and we look forward to working with him to continue his development."
The John Deere three-year apprenticeships lead to the BAGMA/City & Guilds of London Institute 4025 agricultural/groundcare service engineers NVQ Level 2 & 3 certificates and Level 3 IMI Diploma in vehicle parts competence. Apprentices can choose to complete their education for a fourth year to gain the John Deere Diploma and register at LTA2 level in the industry's Landbased Technician Accreditation scheme, while starting their adult training within the John Deere University.
Now in its 23rd year, Ag Tech was the first such scheme to be introduced in the UK and won a National Training Award at the end of 1997, the only one ever made to an agricultural machinery apprenticeship programme.
Since the first programme started in 1992, more than 570 apprentices have graduated through all three John Deere schemes (Ag Tech, Parts Tech and Turf Tech) and are now working in the company's nationwide dealer network. A new Customer Service Tech training programme was also introduced in 2013.