Coleg Cambria Llysfasi and Kubota are blazing a trail for the next generation of engineers with a revolutionary new work programme.
The Japanese tractor and heavy machinery equipment manufacturer joined forces with Cambria to launch the Kubota Apprenticeship Scheme, a three-year block release initiative blending on-the-job experience with education at the Denbighshire site.
The Scheme has now unveiled its first cohort, six dealership employees who travelled from as far as Yorkshire and Northampton to attend the course.
The group will reside in student accommodation at Llysfasi, near Ruthin, during each four-week block, and on completion will have achieved a City and Guilds Level 3 Advanced Technical Extended Diploma in Land-Based Engineering.
Tutor Simon Parker, a lecturer in Agricultural Engineering, says interest in the Scheme is growing all the time.
"There has been a lot of buy-in from dealerships and partners across the country, so we're really pleased," he said.
"The trainees are already enjoying being part of the community here at Llysfasi, and the nature of the qualification means they will be able to stay in full-time employment while taking time out to study with us.
"It's a brilliant programme with a world-leading organisation and we are delighted with how well it's been received."
Among the first to sign up was Aimee Hunt from Hardwick Agricultural Engineers Ltd, near Scarborough.
The 16 year-old had planned to join the Army but swapped "tanks for tractors" and looks forward to a career in the sector.
"There is a need out there for more people in this industry, particularly women," said Aimee.
"I'm proud to be the first girl to join the apprenticeship scheme and to be here at the beginning of what is a great partnership. I saw the opportunity and just went for it, and I encourage other people who want to work in agricultural engineering to do the same."
Established in 1890, Kubota produces elite-level products from tractors, engines and vending machines to valves and pumps for water purification and sewage treatment.
The firm presented the college with three top-of-the-range tractors and will replace them with new vehicles every six months so the trainees are always using the latest technology and equipment.
Michael Bywater, Group Training Manager of Kubota (UK) Limited, is heartened by the response to the initiative, which was launched earlier this year.
"It's fantastic to see such positive support from the dealer network and prospective delegates," said Mr Bywater.
"To have six in the first cohort is terrific and going forward we will aim for no more than 10 so we retain that personal touch and hands-on, quality learning experience - they will support and learn from each other.
"It's an exciting time for Kubota and Cambria, and we are delighted they are the first college we have worked with on the agricultural apprenticeship side. I'm sure this is the start of a great adventure together."
Head of Llysfasi Iain Clarke added: "It's an absolute privilege to be collaborating with Kubota on what is a unique training programme."
"There has been a real buzz about it since the scheme was launched in the spring, and I'm confident that as it grows, we will see even more applications and help to meet demand for more skilled workers in the agricultural engineering industry."
For more information on the new partnership, visit www.cambria.ac.uk/kubota
Visit www.kubota-eu.com for more on Kubota - For Earth, For Life.