The Leicestershire manufacturing plant of Caterpillar's Building Construction Products Division in Desford has re-launched its pioneering apprenticeship programme with Derby College.

The programme will offer up to 140 young people per year for the next three years with the opportunity to kick-start their future careers.

The Caterpillar Academy was launched in 2011 and has so far supported more than 700 first year apprentices.

The company has teamed up with Roundhouse Corporate, a division of Derby College, and lean manufacturing specialists Sigma to develop new training programmes for apprentices in its Caterpillar Skills Academy.

Applications are now open. For more information about the apprenticeship opportunities and the application process, please visit www.caterpillar.com/desfordapprenticeships.  

The first 18 apprentices started in August in the Apprenticeship Academy programme based at Caterpillar in Desford, followed by similar numbers in the following months.

They will combine classroom-based theory work with shop floor experience, including the opportunity to work alongside full-time staff in the assembly plant before returning into the Academy to complete their apprenticeship.

Many are then given the opportunity to potentially progress onto a further 18-month long apprenticeship programme with wider work experience opportunities across the business including Logistics, Paint, Shipping and Quality.

They can afterwards apply for full time positions at the company as well as higher education opportunities such as sponsored Foundation Degrees.

Caterpillar’s Desford Manufacturing Plant Manager Tony Carr explained that the purpose of the continued investment in the apprentice programme was to give large numbers of young people the opportunity to get their first foothold on the workplace ladder.

By gaining nationally recognised qualifications from one of the world’s leading manufacturers, they would then have the skills and attributes that Caterpillar and other employers require.

Tony Carr said: “Last year, 97% of the young people either progressed with us or to other employers – proving that this approach of developing transferable employability skills, values and work ethic is a successful approach both for this company and the wider business community – including our own supply chain.

“The Caterpillar Academy is therefore a fantastic opportunity for young people in our local communities to complete nationally recognised qualifications in a modern and progressive work environment that will set them up for their future working lives.

Derby College Deputy Principal April Hayhurst who heads the Roundhouse Corporate division, continued: “We are delighted to be working with Caterpillar and Sigma to take the Academy to the next level.

“The PMO framework has been co-designed created for the company to develop the skills and attitudes that Caterpillar needs to grow its business. This approach will ensure that the apprentices gain above and beyond the skills and knowledge within the apprenticeships meeting Caterpillar’s specific needs and more.

“Caterpillar should be applauded for taking this innovative approach to providing apprenticeship opportunities to a wide range of local young people.

“Speaking to many of the young people already working at Caterpillar, everyone is clear on the progression routes available to them both here and in the wider jobs market and recognise that this apprenticeship is a fantastic opportunity to get the first foothold in the world of work.”

Brendan Hand is CEO of Sigma which specialises in devising manpower and skills programmes for the manufacturing and engineering industries.

He said: “Having worked in this sector for many years, I know that Caterpillar is streets ahead in its approach to investing in workforce skills.

“This innovative programme provides Caterpillar with the workforce of the future and provides apprentices with saleable skills that enable them to progress in the workplace.”

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