When Mitch Hallett left school in 2004 at the age of 16, he says he was pretty sure that he wasn’t going to get particularly good grades in his exams. The academic side of school hadn’t really interested him - but this didn’t put him off applying for an apprenticeship scheme with New Holland.
Before his final term ended, Mitch applied to Ernest Doe & Sons in Rochford, Essex – his local New Holland dealership. He attended the interview and was offered the job. So, just two weeks after leaving school he began a new life as a New Holland apprentice.
Today Mitch Hallett has risen up the ranks to become the dealership’s Service Manager and says he is very glad he took that initial first step:
“At first it seemed quite daunting: I was a bit overwhelmed by all the machinery and what it all did, but I soon settled into it. The Apprenticeship Scheme meant that three times a year I went off for four weeks to college at Reaseheath in Nantwich in Cheshire. It was good fun – I really enjoyed the college social life (and the college bar). I still keep in touch with some of the friends I made then. While we were at college we did basic training and different courses specialising in New Holland technology, such as hydraulics and electrics. Within about eighteen months I knew that I wanted to focus on combines.”
Mitch says the course was the perfect grounding for his career at Ernest Doe:
“The scheme gave me all the basic knowledge I needed – but it also gave me great hands-on experience too. We even went down to Basildon for the specialist New Holland courses. We were shown around the factory – which was pretty impressive. After eight years I still enjoy what I do - although since becoming Service Manager there’s more paperwork - but I still get out to work on the combines from time to time.”
Mitch says the New Holland Apprenticeship Scheme was a great opportunity for him:
“I’d say to anyone ‘Go for it!’ – definitely. It is ideal for someone who may not be academic, but enjoys hands-on training. It’s perfect for that. What you don’t learn in books you can learn from getting your hands dirty.”
The three year New Holland course is run in conjunction with New Holland dealerships right across the UK. It is designed to equip the apprentices with the latest industry knowledge and technical skills and at the end of the course, successful graduates return to their dealerships with a BTEC National Diploma in Land-based Technology.
The specialist, semi-residential apprenticeship course is partly funded and run by New Holland, and involves an extra five modules specific to the New Holland range of tractors and harvesting machinery – modules that concentrate on areas such as hydraulics, diagnostics and electronics.
Additionally, all New Holland apprentices are registered at Land-based Technician Accreditation (LTA) level one on joining the college, which gives further accreditation to their learning, and can be progressed throughout their career. When each apprentice finishes at Reaseheath they will have achieved LTA level two which covers hydraulics, electrics, engines, powertrains and electronic service tool.
The next step is for the newly qualified technicians to gain product knowledge and diagnostic skills which will enable them to become a professional LTA level three technician. The final step comes at LTA level four, Master Technician which they achieve when they can demonstrate a high level of product knowledge and diagnostic skills, as well as having a good knowledge of New Holland aftersales systems.
Mark Barnes, New Holland’s After Sales Technical Training Manager, has the job of liaising with Reaseheath College, where the course has been successfully run since 2002.
He said: “The course creates a good, sound education and knowledge of the fundamentals, and the additional input of New Holland just raises the guys to a different level and sets them up nicely for their future careers.
We are committed to attracting and nurturing the next generation of young men and women into careers in agriculture. Mitch is testament to what can be achieved by those looking for a long and rewarding career in one of the most innovative and important industries in this country.”
For more information on the New Holland Apprenticeship Scheme, visit your local New Holland dealership.