A brand new JCB digger which has been built entirely by apprentices has been unveiled to mark the 40th anniversary of one of the company’s most popular machines.
The Loadall Agri Pro has been launched to celebrate the milestone birthday of the JCB Loadall telescopic handler.
It was manufactured by the company’s 68-strong team of apprentices.
The group was set the task of developing the machine as part of National Apprenticeship Week last week.
Now the eight-and-a-half tonne digger, which has taken more than 700 hours to design, manufacture and build, will go on display around the UK before being auctioned off in aid of charity.
“As an engineer and former apprentice with manufacturing running through my blood, I’m delighted and very proud of what JCB’s apprentices have achieved with this project.
“They have shown vividly that teamwork delivers wonderful results and, most of all, highlighted what empowering young people on apprenticeships can deliver.”
Apprentices from across JCB’s Staffordshire factories helped to develop the machine, which will initially go on display at JCB’s World headquarters in Rocester before touring the UK at various engineering shows.
Mark Turner, chief operating officer at JCB, said: “We want to celebrate the apprentices for doing something so special for JCB.
“We have welcomed more than 700 apprentices to JCB over the last five years, some of those who have gone on to become senior members of staff.
“So it’s great that we are able to showcase what they can achieve, while celebrating 40 years of the Loadall division.”
Mr Turner added: “We will manufacture this machine, and more machines in the future, while continuing to create new products.”
JCB is taking on a record 150 apprentices this year as part of its on-going pledge to support the engineers of the future.
Nineteen-year-old Ben Attwood, of Alton, has been a traineen apprentice since September.
He said: “When I found out what we would be doing I was excited and nervous. But I am very proud of what we have achieved.”
Dan Malbon, aged 21, from Cheadle, added: “I was really eager to get involved. Everybody played their part and helped each other out.
“I’m excited for everyone to see it and to see how much it makes at auction to raise money for a good cause.”
Sue Husband, director of the National Apprenticeship Service, visited JCB for the unveiling of the new machine.
She said: “It is really impressive that JCB is shining the light on its apprentices and not itself.
“It is really important that we celebrate apprentices, they are the lifeblood of so many employers and help to address that skills gap that we are seeing across so many businesses.
“This project is a wonderful example of what an employer can do to invest in its staff and grow its own talent.”