FINNING has celebrated the success of its latest cohort of apprentices, having overcome Covid-related restrictions to complete their four-year programme.
The Class of 2018 enjoyed a graduation ceremony with family and friends at the Clayton Hotel in Birmingham recently, with 13 apprentices officially becoming fully qualified and accredited engineers and eight of them achieving distinctions.
Marsha Myles, learning and organisational development manager, revealed the company has achieved a 91.7% qualification achievement rate, which represents one of the highest rates across the whole of England where the national average is 58.4%.
She said, “It is a credit to our apprenticeship training manager Craig Smallman and his team that we have achieved these results. They have supported our apprentices throughout their four years and overcome many challenges due to restrictions imposed by the pandemic, including adapting the way they delivered the course, from practical in-person training, to an effective and inspiring online, hybrid model.
“As soon as it was possible to deliver training face to face again, the team refreshed the online elements to ensure every apprentice had the practical knowledge they needed to meet the demands of the new qualification standard. All their work is externally verified and includes a final exam with both knowledge and practical tests where they must show their skill working on a machine.”
All the apprentices have now secured permanent roles within Finning, the official dealer of Cat equipment in the UK and Ireland. Among them was Joe Cross, who won the Apprentice of the Year Award, achieving the highest mark for his assessment, and Sam Elphick, who has dyslexia, who was delighted to achieve a distinction.
Sam is now based at the Finning UK site in Ashford in Kent, working within the workshop helping to prepare and rebuild machines. He said, “I was hoping to get a distinction and I’m pleased that’s what I achieved in the end, and I’m happy with what I’m doing now. Before the course I’d heard of Cat though I didn’t know that much about all their machines, but I always wanted to do something practical, so I applied for it.
“Craig and the teachers gave me support and I would definitely recommend a Finning apprenticeship to others as it’s a really good course – well-structured and well organised.”
Finning said this graduation was ‘particularly special’ as it was the first one the company has been able to hold in-person since before the pandemic and gives the apprenticeships a ‘pivotal point’ to mark the start of their careers.
Many previous apprentice graduates have gone on to take up senior roles within the business, including director of service operations, Iain Carpenter, who began his career as an apprentice with the company over 20 years ago.
Marsha added, “It’s a big challenge to engage and attract young people into the industry. As such, we’re constantly reviewing our apprenticeship recruitment strategy and are continuing to develop our outreach programmes to colleges and schools. We will be paying particular attention to some of the deprived areas surrounding our six regional branches and want to encourage more applications from underrepresented groups within our industry, including ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and women.
“This year 40% of admissions to the apprenticeship programme are diagnosed with some form of learning disability such as ADHD, dyslexia or dyspraxia, which is encouraging as we want to ensure we’re as inclusive an employer as possible. However, there’s still much more that we want to do to attract more people from ethnic minorities and female apprentices to better reflect the society we live in.”