Reaseheath College’s elite engineering department has welcomed a new partnership which will provide career ready construction plant service engineers for SMT GB, the UK’s only distributor for Volvo Construction Equipment.

The bespoke Level 3 Land-based Service Engineering Apprenticeship was launched last November for 19 apprentices at two levels of experience. A seven-strong cohort of new apprentices have begun the full three-year programme while 12 apprentices who are part-way through their training are completing their qualification with us.

The apprentices, who work at SMT GB’s nine national depots, attend college on a residential block release basis and are based at our £8 million Centre for Advanced Engineering and Agri-Technology for their theory and practical training. Between study blocks they return to their workplace, where they are mentored by a dedicated engineer and grow their industry experience.

The majority of apprentices are working towards the new apprenticeship standards, which are written by employer-led groups and include the specific sector skills which employers need. They are supported by Reaseheath and SMT GB throughout and complete their qualification with an End Point Assessment (EPA). Once qualified they become land based service engineers.

Reaseheath’s advanced engineering centre was officially opened a year ago and is one of the most sophisticated technical education centres of its type in Britain. The facility was created specifically to deliver next generation skills in precision engineering, precision farming, service engineering and diagnostic testing and was the reason for Reaseheath becoming SMT GB’s college of choice.

To ensure the apprentices are familiar with the models they work on in their depots, the company has delivered a 16 tonne Volvo EC160E latest generation excavator to Reaseheath Engineering along with the machine’s diagnostic tools to aid training on product specialism. The machine, which has a digging reach of over nine metres, features advanced combustion technology, advanced electronic mode control and an automatic sensing hydraulic system.

Technical Training Manager Jon Taylor said: “We chose to base our apprenticeship programme at Reaseheath because we felt that its recent investment into engineering infrastructure, facilities and equipment made it best suited to meet our company’s needs.

“We were particularly impressed with the new advanced hydraulics room and new engine rigs. Reaseheath has a varied selection of modern technical equipment, and the fact that we were able to bring our machinery on-site was a huge advantage.

“Another main factor was Reaseheath’s outstanding on-site facilities such as its attractive campus, food outlets and programme of social and sporting activities. Although it’s very early in the training programme, all our apprentices have formed a strong relationship with their lecturers and are positive about their college experience.”

Apprentice Liam Dargan, who is based at SMT GB’s headquarters at Duxford, said: “Having Volvo equipment on-site to aid training is beneficial because we are developing skills on familiar product systems. I’m really enjoying being an SMT apprentice. The variety of machinery and tasks and the fact that you can be out on site or in the workshop makes the job really interesting.”

Fellow apprentice Ben Melander, from the Warrington depot, added: “Training at college as well as at the workplace is a good balance. I enjoy coming to college. The staff are more than helpful and the sports facilities and food outlets are great.”

Welcoming the new partnership, Reaseheath’s Construction Plant Programme Leader Jon Rowley said: “We are delighted to be working with SMT GB to train the next generation of qualified engineers. This is a progressive sector which offers many opportunities to those with a high level of technical skills, knowledge and work ethic.”

SMT GB is actively recruiting for new engineering apprentices to start their programme in September 2021. Please watch this video for more information.

You can also find out more by reading the SMT Engineering apprenticeship scheme booklet and by emailing