ONE of Worcester's biggest employers has taken on 17 new apprentices.

Yamazaki Mazak UK, based in the city, has welcomed in its class of 2020, all of whom started at the Worcestershire Group Training Association's training centre back in September.

The 17 new apprentices are all studying in socially-distanced classrooms while learning the skills they will need in their future careers including CNC machining, electrical, mechanical and sheet metal working roles.

They will eventually move to work across multiple departments at Mazak’s European Headquarters in Worcester, as part of the company’s commitment to providing a combination of hands-on training and college-based learning.

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All apprentices will complete an accredited apprenticeship pathway to Level 3, with the option for some students to complete a further top-up to HNC/D level.

Intake numbers have been unaffected by ongoing coronavirus-induced disruption, with the new class joining the existing 44 apprentices who are currently training with Mazak.

The company has successfully trained more than 200 apprentices since the scheme began in 2011 – a figure set to increase with September’s intake.

Commenting on the new intake, Richard Smith, European Group managing director at Yamazaki Mazak UK Ltd, said: "The apprenticeship programme is a vital part of Mazak’s ongoing commitment to the future of UK manufacturing.

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"In these unprecedented times, developing a skilled workforce is vital to the continued success of any business, and our apprentices are key to this ongoing strategy.

“Indeed, a sizeable number of the workers currently employed at our Worcester site undertook a Mazak apprenticeship, highlighting how the scheme remains a cornerstone of our ongoing operations.

"With that in mind, I am thrilled to welcome our new group of students and wish them every success in their training and studies.”