The forestry industry in the UK is vital to the economy, supplying materials for a wide range of products, from paper packaging to building supplies.

However, finding skilled individuals within this industry remains a challenge.

Komatsu Forest UK Ltd, a forestry machine manufacturer, recognises the importance of supporting the wider industry and sees apprenticeships as an investment in its future.

These apprenticeships not only benefit the company but also contribute to the growth of the entire forestry sector in the UK.

Komatsu Forest UK is currently operating from temporary premises in Annan.

However, they are eagerly anticipating the opening of their new facility at Carlisle Airport in early September.

Stephen Bellas, the Managing Director, said: “The new site marks an exciting time for our company as we continue to invest not only in state-of-the-art facilities but also in our people.

"As a global employer with a local network, we understand the significance of fostering employment opportunities and supporting the UK forestry industry on a nationwide scale.”

The commitment to apprenticeships extends across various fields, including engineering, IT, warehouse management, and finance.

By offering these apprenticeships, Komatsu Forest UK aims to identify skill gaps in the industry and develop targeted training initiatives to equip individuals with the necessary skills and knowledge.

Currently, Komatsu has three apprentices, Jake McMillan, Charlie Williamson, and Joe Middlemass, who are undergoing comprehensive training through their respective apprenticeship programs with Gen2 and Carlisle College.

Joe Middlemass, IT apprentice, said: “I am really happy with my apprenticeship at Komatsu Forest UK. I have had really good training on the job. Komatsu is a much bigger company than I realised, and so the potential for career development and progression is huge.”

The company recogniSes that apprenticeships are long-term investments rather than short-term solutions.

Stephen Bellas said: “Our apprentices represent the future of our company and the broader industry; we are committed to providing them with unwavering support and guidance as they excel in their careers. We are also looking forward to welcoming a new apprentice who will join us in August.”

Will Fell, who started as an apprentice in 2016 and is now a full-time Field Service Technician, has shared his experience.

He said: "I attended Newton Rigg College for one week every month, where we learnt about the different aspects of agricultural engineering through a mixture of theory and practical learning.

"At Komatsu, there was always a large variety of work to undertake, which made it easy to practice and use the skills I had been learning at college in previous weeks.

"I started off in the workshop, building the confidence and skill set required to progress to my current position, field service technician."

As the company prepares for the opening of their new facility at Carlisle Airport in September 2023, they emphasise the importance of supporting the local area and the wider forestry industry.

Mr Bellas said: “Our commitment to apprenticeships allows us to attract top talent and position Komatsu Forest UK Ltd as an employer of choice within Cumbria and South-West Scotland. A vast range of opportunities is available to those pursuing a career with us; we firmly believe that investing in apprenticeships strengthens our workforce and contributes to the business's long-term success.”