On-site recruitment agency Randstad’s effective partnership with Hartlepool College of Further Education is aiming to deliver more high-quality welders to Caterpillar UK.

The joined-up thinking of the three organisations is helping to close the skills gaps, with another ten trainees joining an existing batch of 20 already on the programme this month.

Learners, recruited by Randstad, are on a ten-week course at Hartlepool College where welding bays have been specifically tailored to meet Caterpillar’s exceptional standards.

After those initial ten weeks, learners will be on Caterpillar’s Peterlee site as a trainee for one year until they become fully qualified. Provided they reach the standards expected during that time, it is expected they will stay at Caterpillar beyond that.

Andrew Thursfield, Randstad’s regional director, said: “We are responsible for supporting and managing the trainees to help them towards a potential career for life.

“The success of this course has resulted in over 70% of our previous trainees still working with Caterpillar today. Many have progressed into more senior roles such as team leaders and section managers. We are so excited to work with Caterpillar to start the welding programme up again after Covid put a temporary stop on it.

“We’re working with Hartlepool College who have exceptional training and facilities for people who don’t have any experience in welding.

“There is a massive shortage of welders in the region and this programme will have a big impact on reducing the skills gap whilst giving jobs to local people.

“The College has made the facility ready to meet Caterpillar standards and qualities.”

Randstad interviewed and selected people for the course before putting them forward after assessment.

The worldwide recruitment agency, with an office based on site at Caterpillar, manages the temporary workforce, from response to recruitment, on a day-to-day basis throughout the trainees’ time with Caterpillar.

Andrew said: “They don’t have to have any experience, we look for a good attitude and a willingness to learn.

“Working alongside CAT, we want to support putting these required skills back into the region. This is not only going to give you a qualification but that experience of working on a facility with a global and leading brand such as Caterpillar.

“It’s about putting the skills back into the market because there is a shortage.”

The Caterpillar facility in Stockton is now also looking into the programme following its success.

Gary Riches, the College’s assistant principal, has worked closely with Randstad to ensure the arrangement meets Caterpillar’s requirements.

He said: “It has been brilliant to see how Hartlepool College has helped close a current skills gap within such a large organisation.

“When the initial meeting with Andrew at Randstad took place, it was easy to picture what the outcome of the project was going to look like as we have both exceptional staff and exceptional facilities at the College.

“Of course, Randstad’s thorough recruitment process and Caterpillar’s high standards allowed me to visualise just how far we could go with this.

“It will be pleasing to see the final ten recruits start work at Caterpillar’s Peterlee factory and even more pleasing in 12 months’ time when they are all still performing at the expected level that has been set.

“Both Randstad and Caterpillar staff have been involved every step of the way, with visits to the College taking place every week, so the trainees feel part of the organisation and also allowing the College to tailor any training to meet the needs of Caterpillar along the way.

“The College trains a high volume of engineering apprentices from Caterpillar each year, so this additional project has further strengthened an already solid partnership.”

*If you are interested in working at Caterpillar, please visit the Randstad landing page with the latest opportunities by clicking the link www.randstad.co.uk/caterpillar-peterlee