Scotland’s largest machinery ring, Ringlink Scotland, is inviting applications for its land-based pre-apprenticeship scheme.
The scheme, which is part of a three-year Scottish Government-funded national pilot with Borders Machinery Ring and Tarff Services, aims to train the next generation of workers for the land-based sector.
“The land-based pre-apprenticeship scheme continues to thrive, albeit with several adjustments made throughout the last two years of the pandemic,” said Ringlink’s operations manager, Gail Robertson.
“Virtual recruitment and virtual training was introduced and we adapted in line with restrictions to allow 29 young people the opportunity to undertake the programme in 2021.”
She said the pilot scheme, open to those aged 16 to 21, had been a success.
“Over three years, the pilot employers – Ringlink, Borders Machinery Ring and Tarff Services – will have recruited approximately 140 young people, providing a valuable source of new talent for the Scottish land-based sector and that is a significant achievement,” added Ms Robertson.
“It is a testament to the resilience and dedication of the employers, mentors and trainees alike.”
She said that although funding for the programme in 2022 was still pending, applications are open until the end of March for this year’s intake commencing in June.
“Our proposal currently sits with Scottish Government and we remain hopeful that financial support will continue for the land-based pre-apprenticeship programme,” added Ms Robertson.
“With more than 50% of our pre-apprentices progressing onto Modern Apprenticeships, vocational training and qualifications is one way to stem the shortfall in skilled workers, it is certainly not a short-term solution by any means but providing more businesses engage and offer apprenticeship opportunities, it will contribute to a long-term solution.”
Meanwhile, Ringlink expects to complete construction of a new training facility at its headquarters near Laurencekirk next month.
Ringlink’s training manager, Peter Wood, said: “The new facility will offer an extensive range of practical certified courses which will include the agriculture-related forklift and pesticides training, and construction-based training including new roads and street works, crane operation and excavation and dumpers.”
He said the facility will include a workshop to house the large number of chainsaw and utility arboriculture courses that are also available.
Mr Wood added: “The new training facility in Laurencekirk is situated alongside the railway station making it easily accessible and only a few minutes walk from the existing Ringlink head office within the business park.”
Other developments in the pipeline for Ringlink include potential investment in high-tech simulators to give trainees introductory training on specific plant and machinery.
Mr Wood said this would offer a “safe and cost-effective means of skills development”.
Details about the land-based pre-apprenticeship scheme are online at ringlinkscotland.co.uk