Apprentices Nick Searle, James Gosling and Obi Brinkley with technical tractor trainer John Kireia at the Claas Academy
Apprentices Nick Searle, James Gosling and Obi Brinkley with technical tractor trainer John Kireia at the Claas Academy.

Claas UK is taking its apprentice training in-house from February 2020. In an industry first, the programme will be based in a dedicated new Apprenticeship Academy, directly adjacent to the award-winning Claas Academy, on the site of the Claas UK headquarters at Saxham, Suffolk.

The development of the new purpose-built Apprentice Academy will make Claas the only UK agricultural machinery manufacturer to offer and deliver an in-house apprenticeship programme that is all under one roof.  It’s also a worldwide first for the Claas Group, and with a significant investment of three million euros, the programme will provide a blueprint for the development of similar schemes within the company’s global operation.

It’s 20 years since Claas UK launched its industry leading apprenticeship programme and this has gone from strength to strength, with a record number of apprentices joining the scheme in 2020. In light of the increased demand for good quality apprenticeships, the company has now made the decision to raise the apprentice scheme to a new level.

To date, Claas has seen more than 200 apprentices graduate and grow within its dealer network, many of who are progressing within their careers. This has been as a direct result of the commitment and support of the dealer network and existing training providers.

However, Claas recognises that in order to stay ahead it has to keep on running. In the past 20 years the company’s product portfolio and technology has changed to meet the increasing demands of customers, so the training schemes also need to keep apace of these new developments.

Hence Claas’ decision to focus on the importance of “growing its own” to ensure that its dealership staff of the future have the technical skills and product knowledge required by customers and the dealer network to provide a first-claas service.

The decision to take the apprenticeship programme in-house, rather than continuing with a third party, will allow Claas UK to fully integrate their apprentices into the culture of Claas, its extensive product range and its ethos.

Claas will continue its close working relationships with the current partner colleges to ensure all their existing apprentices complete their programmes successfully and continue their careers at Claas.

Initially, Claas UK will be delivering the Land-Based Service Engineer Technician Level 3 Apprenticeship Standard, but as the academy develops it is planned to expand apprentice numbers and courses available.

The apprenticeship programmes will be delivered by Claas dedicated trainers alongside specialist product trainers from the Claas Academy. In preparation for the new programme, not only has an Apprenticeship Academy been established on site, the Claas Academy itself has been extended and remodelled to provide additional bespoke facilities for the apprentices, namely specialist fabrication, engine, hydraulic and electronic workshops, classrooms and break-out areas.  This expansion sees the Academy grow by a further five workshops and six classrooms, together with dedicated digital studios.

Claas UK has received full Government approval to join the apprentice training register. In the future, the company will also be collaborating with the Scottish Rural College to deliver apprenticeships for Scottish candidates from the new Apprentice Academy at Saxham.

“This is a significant strategic step for the development and sustainability of our business,” Claas UK’s chief operating officer Brian Wain said. “In an industry that combines advanced technology with practical applications, we have to invest in the people who will be our future engineers, for our dealer partners, and our final customer, if we are all to succeed in the field.”