A cohort of 50 apprentices, ranging in age from 16 years through to 56, were part of the AFGRI Equipment Apprentice and Trainee Induction for two days at the Muresk Institute last week.
The intense training course follows the groundwork laid down for the inaugural induction for 44 new starters 12 months earlier.
AFGRI Equipment general manager, Aftermarket, Brad Forrester said it was about getting their employees together and for a lot of them, it was their first full-time job, either as service apprentices (over four years) or parts traineeships (over two years).
"We give them an understanding of our expectations and get them to understand how we can support them," Mr Forrester said.
"And we give them an overview of the training program."
Mr Forrester said the inductions were critical as they confronted the labour shortage head-on.
"We know we have got to train through that," he said.
"And we are finding with the technology, particularly with John Deere, we have got to train to a certain skill set, it can't just be the usual TAFE modules that they complete - we have to add in our expert content as well."
The parts traineeship program has been growing each year.
"We find they are great pathways into the branches, they don't necessarily stay in parts for their whole career - they can go into management, sales - some of them have even done their parts traineeship and done an apprenticeship after," Mr Forrester said.
William Mansfield, at 30 years of age, joined the AFGRI Equipment, Geraldton, team three months ago before starting his service apprenticeship a few weeks back.
He was one of many new starters who didn't have any agriculture experience before taking on his new role.
Mr Mansfield was a tradesmen/automotive spray painter in Perth for about 10 years before relocating to Geraldton with his wife and two young children, using it as a base for a mining fly-in, fly-out career.
Mining wasn't something he wanted long-term, "so I decided to make a change at 30 years of age and here I am".
Mr Mansfield's father-in-law has 30 years experience as a service technician and offered some sound advice.
"He said it was a good working environment and they are like a family and no matter where you go, you always have a job and I just wanted stability for my family," Mr Mansfield said.
He was enjoying the program and said it was "going to be a fun four years of learning".
At 56, Neil Strugnell was the oldest of the apprentices who is also taking the next step in his career.
He had been a "yardie" and then a trades assistant at the Mukinbudin branch for 10 years and said formalising the training process with an apprenticeship was a logical step.
Mr Strugnell said he enjoyed the structure around the training programs and he looked forward to the learning program.
Prior to working with John Deere equipment, he worked for local farmers, the local shire and even had his own spraying business for a while.
Mr Strugnell said all those different roles gave him some great life experience and will help in his new role.
Candice Rozema, 21, is originally from Kalgoorlie, also with no agriculture background, and is now based at the Gnowangerup branch.
After moving to the area to be closer to some family members and friends, she embraced the opportunity to "try something new".
"I have always been hands-on with everything," Ms Rozema said.
Her stepdad is a heavy diesel mechanic who also had a bit of a farming background, so she was able to talk to him about the role and the new community she has embraced.
"It has been good - our branch is like a little family, it's so good to be in that community and we are all there to support each other and it's really cool to be there," Ms Rozema said.
She said the staff were "all so accommodating" and already she has helped complete a couple of engine rebuilds with the team, "which is really interesting as I didn't think starting straight away I would jump straight into engine rebuilds".
Ms Rozema enjoys going onto farms as well and helping diagnose and fix issues.
Xanthe Calnan, 16, is one of the youngest members of the team, starting a two-year parts traineeship on January 8 in Dalwallinu.
She said she enjoys agriculture and living in a regional location and was looking forward to seeing where the traineeship would take her, as there were lots of opportunities.
Another 16-year-old who has joined the AFGRI Equipment stable is Andrew MacLachlan who is based in Geraldton.
Having older brother Joel as a service technician, he is looking forward to the future.
"I want to learn as much as I can and grab myself a trade," Mr MacLachlan said.
Wyatt Edwards, 17, is also part of the Geraldton intake, starting on January 8.
He has always been interested in a mechanical apprenticeship, having grown up on a family farm at Chapman Valley that crops hay and runs cattle.
"It looks like a fun environment to work in," Mr Edwards said.
Jack Devereux, 21, has lived in Geraldton all his life and started his apprenticeship last year.
"The amount of things I have learnt in the past six months, it blows me away," Mr Devereux said.
He said there was a lot to learn and he was excited for the challenges ahead.
Mr Devereux enjoys working on the machines and interacting with farmers, saying "they are friendly and happy to see us".