£1.2m CLAAS Academy at Saxham, Bury St Edmunds, officially launched
A German farm machinery maker has underlined its commitment to its UK business with the opening of a £1.2m state-of-the-art training centre in Suffolk.
CLAAS UK, which has further plans to build a new multi-million pound UK headquarters on the site of the current one at Saxham, near Bury St Edmunds, held the official launch of its CLAAS Academy on Wednesday, October 4.
The firm’s British and Irish apprentices will travel to the site, which lies next to the headquarters, for up to 5,000 training days a year in a variety of disciplines, from technicians’ qualifications to sales, bringing a welcome boost to the local economy.
Mayor of St Edmundsbury Terry Clements said he was “totally impressed” with the investment being made, and the boost to highly skilled jobs.
Guest of honour Lothar Kriszun, who is speaker of the board at CLAAS, joined guests from across the UK and Ireland at the event.
Mr Kriszun, who is set to retire after 36 years with the company, said there was a constant need for ongoing development within the industry.
“Independent of Brexit there is a market and has been a market for agricultural products. Although the number of farmers is decreasing in the UK and elsewhere, the land is there and it will be farmed,” he said. These farmers required professional equipment, and training was “crucial” for the firm’s future success. The investment showed the firm’s commitment to the Suffolk site, he added. “We are a small family business. It’s a lot of money. We consider that as a significant stake.”
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CLAAS UK chief executive Trevor Tyrrell said the centre did bring knock-on benefits to accommodation providers and other service industries in the area. The academy employs 11 trainers, and is also the focal point for remote online training which takes place with trainees throughout the country.
The centre would have “a positive impact on our growth strategy”, he said.
Guests were given a tour of the site, and given a taste of the fast pace of technological changes which technicians of the future will need to embrace. They were also told of the looming skills gap and the need for the agricultural machinery sector to encourage new recruits.