The Newark and Nottinghamshire Agricultural Society (NNAS) launched the Midlands Agricultural Engineering Apprenticeship Awards, led by former vice president Geoffrey Bond, in a bid to support young people as they develop their skills within the agricultural engineering sector.
NNAS deputy president Pat White, who presented the awards alongside farming – YouTuber Olly Harrison, likened agricultural engineers to NHS doctors. “Without them, everything grinds to a halt,” he said. “They are vitally important. We need skilled craftsmen who are not worried about getting their hands dirty. These youngsters will be huge assets for the industry for years to come.”
Winners of the award were selected by NNAS and independent engineer Charles Szabo. Successful 2021 applicants, receiving their second £250 instalment were: Isaac Kirk, Ripon Farm Services; Zac Elsden, Chandlers; Kieran Snowden, Chandlers; Oliver Coupland, Ripon Farm Service; Stella Hubbard, Farol; and Luke Hatton, Russells.
Successful 2022 applicants receiving their first £250 instalment were: Aaron Barlow, B&B Tractors; Arun Slaney, B&B Tractors; Ryan Lomas, Chandlers; Robert Ward, Farol; Craig Redfern, Sharmans Agricultural; and Evan Roberts, Ripon Farm Services.
Robert Ward has two years of his three-year apprenticeship remaining with Farol, located near the Newark & Nottinghamshire Showground. “I’ve always had a passion for repairing farm equipment and an apprenticeship is the best way to learn the practicalities rather than sitting in a classroom.”
Mr Ward recently put a new turbo and injectors on a John Deere 6330. “I enjoyed the responsibility and the satisfaction – and when it fired up afterwards, it was immense.”
Stella Hubbard, a John Deere apprentice who has one-year of her three-year apprenticeship remaining, said that being a female in this occupation is not very common. “I’d like to inspire more women to take it up. I’d like to become a master technician with John Deere and perhaps do a harvest in Australia.”
Zak Elsden is a part of the Chandlers team. He said the second award instalment will help him to buy any remaining specialist tools he needs to work on a vast range of agricultural machinery. “I am proud, as not everyone receives the award,” he said.
Promoting apprenticeships through awards like this is vital, explained Andrew Walker, group aftersales manager at B&B Tractors. “We have 20 apprentices in various stages of training and try to take on a three-year apprentice every year across our four depots. We want to attract people with an interest in engineering,” he added. “They don’t necessarily have to be from a farming background. Having the opportunity to work outside rather than stuck in a factory or car garage could be an attraction.”
Young apprentices are the lifeblood of the agriculture, said Charles Szabo. “Food is the number one issue. We need a strong agricultural industry, and we can’t do that without young apprentices.”