Instructor with JCB Digger

Cornwall’s leading agricultural college (@DuchyCollege) has announced a brand-new programme that will see professional training in construction and plant operations delivered as an apprenticeship for the first time.

Duchy College Stoke Climsland, based in north Cornwall, is also the only provider of the apprenticeship in the county.

The course will see students learn under the watchful eye of expert tutors at the college’s 660-acre campus one day a week, with the rest of their time spent working for a local employer to get their own hands-on experience – a vital aspect of the programme.

Businesses who sign up to take on a new apprentice before September are eligible to receive up to £4,000 in government incentives, plus an additional £3,000 if they sign up to the Skills for Cornwall Project - part of the European Social Fund (ESF) Business Cluster Project.

Head of apprenticeships at The Cornwall College Group (TCCG), Lorna Martin, said:

“This is a valuable opportunity for anyone looking to get into the construction or plant operations industry.

“Taking part in an apprenticeship means you earn an income whilst securing the qualifications you need to progress through the sector.

“We’re incredibly proud to be the first Cornwall-based provider of this new apprenticeship, which will see valuable skills and training shared with people working in local companies.

“And with the current incentives up for grabs, this is an opportunity that local companies do not want to miss.”

This latest course offering is the second new ‘trailblazer’ apprenticeship that TCCG has announced in as many weeks, following the launch of the UK’s first ever ecology degree apprenticeship the group is starting at their Eden Project Learning campus.

‘Trailblazer’ apprenticeships are introduced when a group of industry professionals from the country’s top firms come together after identifying a need for more training within their sector.

The initiative means that colleges are able to provide the skills, training and qualifications that businesses are crying out for, whilst students have the chance to gain valuable experience as they study.

Mark Rushton, apprenticeship programme manager for plant operations at Duchy College commented:

“The Construction Plant Operative Apprenticeship offers a fantastic opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills that are sought after within a thriving industry. 

“Duchy College is a registered CPCS test centre and can therefore offer additional training and testing enabling learners to achieve a RED and BLUE card tickets for operating plant equipment professionally. 

“The course has been designed flexibly to meet employers and learners' individual needs, and is delivered by qualified staff with a diverse range of industry experience.”

During the course, which is taking applications now to start this September, the lucky first cohort of students will have the opportunity to operate a range of plant machinery and work across a number of projects before upgrading to more specialist equipment such as graders, dozers and demolition machinery. 

Due to their strong, long-standing relations with employers and businesses in the south west, Duchy College is also planning for the apprentices to visit a JCB factory, Imerys mining plant facilities, various constructions sites, and hear from experienced guest speakers from the plant manufacturers and operators world.

Ultimately this apprenticeship will set up successful participants to go on to become lead operators, supervisors, plant managers or set up their own contract company.

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