Andrew Hoddinott (middle) and his two apprentices

Vincent Tractors and Plant

“We feel it’s absolutely right to give something back and give these young people a chance,” says Andrew Hoddinott, Group Service Manager for Vincent Tractors and Plant. “If we want engineers working in this industry in the future, then we need to get them in early doors and give them an opportunity to learn the trade,” he adds.

Vincent Tractors and Plant has been providing high-quality machinery to farmers, plant operators and landowners in Cornwall for over fifty years. The company started from a workshop in Summercourt, before moving to its current home in Fraddon and now has bases in Plympton and Holsworthy in Devon, as well as Wellington in Somerset.

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The team have been working closely with Duchy College and Cornwall College, providing apprenticeships at Vincent Tractors and Plant, for several years.

“Apprentices bring youth and real character, new ideas and lots of enthusiasm,” says Andrew who believes they really add value to the business. “Finding staff with the right ‘can-do’ approach can be difficult and what we have found is that if apprentices come with the right attitude, we can teach them the rest.”

“They’re here to learn and our apprentices are treated just the same as all the other engineers working with us. The role of an apprentice is very hands-on, and they will be involved in all aspects of the work from fault-finding and diagnosis to servicing, and everything from repairing to assembling machinery. They can be found in our workshops every day,” Andrew says.

Vincent Tractors and Plant currently have three apprentices working with the team. 17-year-old Aiden Weekes from Tavistock is twelve months into his land-based engineering apprenticeship at Duchy College, while 18-year-old Billy Turpin Brooks from Treviscoe near Fraddon has been studying the same subject for two years.

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16-year-old George Lawrence from St Austell is about to begin his customer services course at Cornwall College and works in the parts department at Vincent Tractors and Plant.

Billy Turpin Brooks has now qualified as a Level 2 (Intermediate) engineer and will be studying for his Level 3 qualification next year, “The best thing about working here is the huge variety of machines that I get to work on and look after. I always wanted to take up an apprenticeship and it’s ideal for anyone whose an active learner.”

Billy says, “An apprenticeship is definitely the best option, getting paid while you’re learning real-world skills while you’re still studying at college. I would recommend it to anyone thinking about what they want to do once they leave school. I was offered the apprenticeship at the end of my work experience – I didn’t have an idea of what I wanted to do, so it was really encouraging and helped me to decide on my career.”

George Lawrence believes that his apprenticeship has helped to hone his skills, “It’s given me much greater confidence and taken me out of my comfort zone. You’re not just learning the trade, you’re dealing with real customers every day, solving problems and having to communicate with a whole range of people working here. It’s a friendly environment and everyone is so supportive.”

George adds, “Being an apprentice turns you into an adult. You’re dealing with real people and its great experience. I would recommend an apprenticeship to anyone who’s willing to go out and work, especially if you’re just leaving school. It’s a great opportunity.”

Andrew Hodinott says, “These guys are integral to our business – they’re learning all the vital skills while doing the job. We treat them just the same as everyone else and our aim is for them to come out the other side, fully-fledged and able to work with us on a permanent basis. That is always our intention – to give them a role at the end of it, we want them to stay with us for the long-term.”

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One apprentice finished his course two years ago and is now employed by the company, says Andrew, “He’s one of the best engineers we have, he’s got a great spirit and it’s great to have him on board full-time.”

Andrew says he would encourage any business to take on an apprentice, “Give it a go – you don’t know who is out there until you take the plunge. Having apprentices has improved the overall dynamic within the workshop and has made a real difference to our business.”

Posted on 22nd Sep 2022 | dca


We have seen many employees progress through apprenticeships, giving us the opportunity to produce high quality engineers

Darren Etherington, Production Director at Watson-Marlow

The value that the apprentices have added to our business has paid this back many times over

Michelle Pearce, Practice Director, RRL accountants

Apprenticeships aren’t just entry level jobs for youngsters coming straight out of school – they’re fantastic opportunities for upskilling existing employees too

Publican Mark Holden, Victoria Inn

It is absolutely essential that new blood is developed for the Bakery industry which is best done via the apprenticeship route

Mark Norton, Managing Director at Prima Bakeries

Apprentices invigorate our crews and the new roles have created a lot of excitement within the Service

Kathryn Billing, Cornwall Fire, Rescue and Community Safety Service Group Manager