Finning, exclusive dealer of Cat® machines and equipment in the UK & Ireland, are celebrating after their apprentices graduated with distinction, having overcome Covid restrictions to complete their four-year programme.

The high-flying Class of 2018 enjoyed a graduation ceremony together with family and friends at the Clayton Hotel in Birmingham earlier this month, with 13 apprentices officially becoming fully qualified and accredited engineers and eight of them achieving distinctions.

Marsha Myles, learning and organisational development manager, explained that the company has achieved a 91.7% Qualification Achievement Rate which represents one of the highest qualification 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. 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 also delighted to achieve a distinction having got to grips with a combination of online and hands-on training.

Sam is now based at the Finning UK site in Ashford in Kent, working within the workshop helping to prepare and rebuild machines from dozers to loading shovels.

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.”

This graduation was particularly special as it was the first Finning has been able to hold in-person over the last two years and gives the apprenticeships a pivotal point to mark the start of their career journeys. Finning has a successful career pathway development programme that’s open to everyone and enables them to access funded courses up to master’s level together with professional memberships.

Many previous apprentice graduates have gone on to take up senior roles within the service and product specialist teams, 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.”

Finning has been training apprentices since 1974. To find out more about the Finning apprenticeship scheme go to: https://www.finning.com/en_GB/company/careers/our-people/apprenticeship.html