Starting out young

June is normally the time of year when ‘potential’ agricultural engineering apprentices are vying for the best jobs on offer in the industry. School leavers aged between 15 and 16 with a minimum of four C passes are likely to be considered for the top opportunities, depending on the qualifications metrics set by the potential employer.

As an example, Hartpury College of Agriculture will be hosting an assessment day on June 20th at which local John Deere dealer, Tallis Amos Group (TAG) with five branches throughout the West Midlands and South/West Wales, will be selecting their likely candidates. 

Subject Leader for Agriculture at Hartpury is Trevor Hicks, who oversees the student applications for the pre-apprenticeship year, in which students obtain a foundation of agricultural engineering, prior to starting their apprenticeship. Commented Trevor, “ The recruitment day very much assesses students for their aptitude for their chosen career. It doesn’t necessarily mean the most technically capable person automatically gets the nomination, because it’s also down to personality and potential of working within a team that needs to be considered. Skills can be taught at college and on special courses, but our employers are also looking for students with a good approach to people skills. TAG has taken a very positive approach to finding the right people by setting higher standards than most other companies. I’m well impressed with TAGs approach because they have been carrying the programme through in its entirety ensuring that the best students are cultivated to bring out their skills and to help them achieve their career objectives.”

On acceptance, students then go through the first full year, by attending a three-day week Foundation programme at Hartpury, and the other two days working alongside fully certified technicians at TAG. Once this programme is completed they are awarded a Level 1 Certification, a programme that is configured and monitored by the IMI, the Institute of Motor Industry - a common regulation that is of national standards and recognised by most brands.

Service Manager at TAG is Richard Allard, who takes a very active role in selecting the best candidates for the opportunities available. said Richard, “This year we are looking for four or five potential apprentices within the service and parts departments of our company. Working with Hartpury College, who take all our interns for the first twelve months, we can be very selective at finding the right person to fit the role. However, not everyone makes it through the programme because we do set high standards and we cannot accept anything less than complete fulfilment in terms of technical adeptness, learning potential and of course people skills. At TAG, we strive to offer our customers the best customer experience in the industry and we will not accept any less from our staff. We help our apprentices understand the importance of communication and that pays off with a high level of customer retention - of maximum importance to our business and our reputation.”

Once apprentice candidates have been selected and complete their first 12 months of Foundation and field training with TAG and Hartpury, they are then enrolled in a three-year engineering skill development programme through John Deere University, which is based near Nottingham. This is a programme which is fully funded by TAG and enables successful candidates to achieve LTA 2 and 3 qualifications - again these are industry standards and recognised throughout the industry. This is when the apprentice becomes a fully-fledged engineering technician. The top level achievement - an LTA4 - Master Tech, can then be reached following successful fulfilment of regulatory standards - which vary according to the sector in which the technician has qualified.

Added Richard Allard, “Although we do set high standards in our company, it’s because we want to offer nothing but the best for our customers. Those successful achievers will reap the benefits of their hard work and personal development. At TAG, we reward our successful technicians with an excellent remuneration package - but we also offer something very special. Our programme is called TAG Academy and it set to establish the highest standards in the industry. On achievement and fulfilment of their apprentice programme, the fully accredited technician than has the opportunity for an exchange visit for six months with an associate John Deere dealership based in New Zealand. This again is funded by TAG and gives the qualified team member the opportunity to travel, experience a culture on the other side of the world as part of their personal development programme. I don’t know of any other company that offers this as part of an employment package to their staff.”

Potential apprenticeship candidates who are interested in finding out more about the apprenticeship opportunities and training programme offered by TAG can visit the company website at; and complete the relevant forms online for consideration.

For more information, contact Richard Allard, Service Manager, Tallis Amos Group Ltd. Hinton-on-the-Green, Evesham, Worcestershire WR11 2QT Tel; 01386 48600

Richard Allard (left) Service Manager at Tallis Amos Group, talking through the basics of a combine harvester with apprentice technicians
Richard Allard (left) Service Manager at Tallis Amos Group, talking through the basics of a combine harvester with apprentice technicians