KOMATSU UK is enjoying a sensational start to 2017, creating a raft of new roles at its Birtley factory as well as welcoming the latest intake of apprentices to the plant.

The firm is also seeing its investment in staff development paying off, with promotion for two former apprentices.

Michael Redshaw, 32, who started his professional life at Komatsu as a 16-year-old apprentice straight out of school, has been appointed as senior field support engineer and Andy Raine, 26, who has been with the firm since 2009, has been promoted to Computer Numerical Control (CNC) team leader in the fabrication department.

One of the key roles the duo will fulfil is mentoring and developing the latest intake of six new apprentices, who took stepped onto the career ladder in January.

Komatsu, which this year celebrates its 30th anniversary since the official opening of the Birtley plant in July 2017, is also creating 25 new jobs in its manufacturing areas.

Michael, whose role sees him dispatched across Europe to carry out technical investigations on Komatsu excavators operating in the field, believes the culture of training and development across the organisation has earned the company a reputation as an employer of choice among young people.

“From day one, I was encouraged to develop my skills across a number of departments and disciplines,” he said. “I realised quickly that the chance was there to progress, so took advantage of the training opportunities that Komatsu creates for its employees.”

“As a field support engineer, I have been all over the world. North Africa, Seville, Japan…parts of the world I would never have dreamed of seeing had I not worked here. Now, I will still do that, but also have a responsibility to bring through the next generation who will fill these roles in the future.”

Andy’s new role at the plant sees him managing a team of five and overseeing the operation of a range of CNC machines, vital on the Komatsu production line.

He said: Komatsu supports its employees.  If you show desire to progress and succeed, the company will back you to achieve your ambitions.”

“I stayed on at school for a year, but realised very quickly that while I wanted to continue my education, I also wanted to earn a living. A Komatsu apprenticeship let me do both, and over the last six years or so I have secured BTEC, NVQ and HNC qualifications, not to mention all the additional training and development we receive in-house.”

“I’m delighted with the new role and look forward to helping develop new young talent that will carry Komatsu into the future.”

Komatsu currently has 22 apprentices, including the latest intake.

Tracey Bowman, senior HR manager at Komatsu, said: “Komatsu has been providing apprenticeships for the past 30 years and this has helped us develop a motivated and enthusiastic team, keen to enhance their skills and experience.”

“Andy and Michael are two shining examples of how an apprenticeship can help you to develop your career. They worked hard, grasped development opportunities, and I am delighted that their hard work has seen them secure these two important roles.”

Apprentices at Komatsu UK have also previously been recognised by the Engineering Employers Federation Northern Region and South Tyneside College with apprentice of the year and student of the year awards respectively.

Komatsu has delivered the highest quality excavators since establishing the plant in 1987, when it helped redefine modern manufacturing in the North East, establishing a range of Japanese practices and ways of working unheard of in most UK plants.

Originally creating 250 high quality manufacturing and engineering roles, Komatsu was at the forefront of the creation of a whole new industry in the North East that centered around automotive and construction equipment manufacturing.

Thirty years on, the firm remains at the forefront of manufacturing excellence. Testament to the company’s reputation as an excellent employer, 12 percent of their current employees are celebrating their 30th year of service with the company in 2017.

For more information on Komatsu UK, visit www.komatsu.co.uk