Helping to take careers

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More than 100 years since its founding, Cummins is committed to inspiring young people to pursue careers at one of the world’s leading energy technology companies. PETER BARRON reports

As someone who plays a key role in finding new talent at one of the North East’s most iconic businesses, Dave Hodgson knows all it takes is a spark to ignite ambition.

Dave’s primary job is as a business account manager, specializing in the truck division, at the Cummins plant in Darlington. But it’s also at the center of the company’s intensive program aimed at inspiring the next generation of workers.

And yet Dave admits he didn’t have a clear vision of his future growing up on the north east coast in Redcar, and at Huntcliff Secondary School in nearby Saltburn.

His father, Chris, was a multi-skilled process technician at ICI, and his mother, Deborah, worked in NHS administration, but Dave had no real direction and started chatting to a couple of men who used the local leisure center where he was earning. until work experience

Northern echo: dave hodgson, business account manager, specializing in the trucking division

Northern Echo: Dave Hodgson, business account manager, specializing in the trucking division

Dave Hodgson, business account manager, specializing in the trucking division (Image: Cummins)

“One was a Royal Marine driving motor boats, and the other was coming out of the RAF, and I loved the sound of what they had done in their careers. That was the spark I needed,” Dave recalled.

Joining the RAF at 17, he began a technical apprenticeship and spent seven and a half years as an aircraft and propulsion technician working on fast jets such as the Tornado and Harrier.

“Looking back, I was always interested in how things worked, and built my own bike when I was 12 or 13, but joining the RAF changed my life,” he says.

“Sending planes, loading operational missiles and traveling around the world was very exciting for a young lad. It opened my eyes to what’s possible, and it all stems from the inspirational conversations I had with those two guys at the recreation center.

After the RAF, Dave spent two-and-a-half years as a mechanical engineer at Lackenby steelworks, close to his roots, and was involved in the mix-up of the site when Teesside’s biggest employer went to close.

Dave could see that there was no future in the steel industry, so he put out his CV and Cummins invited him for an interview.

“We used Cummins engines in the ground equipment of RAF aircraft, so I was aware of the company, but I researched more about them before the interview, and I quickly saw what a huge business it was, with an impact all over the world.”

Dave joined Cummins in 2010 as a service engineer for new products, and the opportunities soon opened up. He moved into the “On Highway” bus business as a technical support engineer, focusing on the customer, which led to account management.

His primary responsibility is managing Cummins’ relationship with a major truck manufacturer, but he is also passionate about his volunteer role with the Community Involvement Team.

“Cummins is a company committed to giving back to the local areas in which it operates, helping to build more prosperous communities and empowering people to improve their lives,” he explained.

Indeed, it is an ethos that has been instilled in the business by its founder, Clessie Cummins, who built his first steam engine at the age of 11 and launched the Cummins Engine Company in February 1919. Besides being a really great inventor and entrepreneur, Clessie. he decided that his business would have a positive impact on the local communities it touched.

Today, the Community Involvement Team at the Darlington plant has three main areas of focus: education, environment and equal opportunities, and is led by Dave in education.

“Thousands of young people pass through the site every day, but they probably don’t know much about what’s going on there, and the enormous opportunities that exist. It’s not just about engineering, there’s a whole spectrum of every job and function you can imagine,” he says.

That’s why Dave is committed to getting out into the community to encourage young people to get involved in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) activities, hoping that some will become Cummins’ future employees.

“It’s about opening their eyes to see how the industry works and how it relates to their daily lives. It only takes a spark to consider a career in this type of business.”

Inspiring the next generation

Northern echo: amit kumar, center, receives his stem award from antonio leitao, vice president off-highway engine business.

Northern Echo: Amit Kumar, center, receives his STEM award from Antonio Leitao, Vice President Off-Highway Engine Business.

Amit Kumar, center, receives his STEM award from Antonio Leitao, Vice President Off-Highway Engine Business, left. (Image: Cummins)

Cummins is involved in various events and initiatives to identify and promote young talent.

A great example was the International Women’s Day event organized by Cummins on March 8, as part of the company’s strong focus on diversity and gender equality. Carmel College students were taken to the Darlington site for a question and answer session with female staff about their roles.

It is part of a global program of events, organized by the Women’s Empowerment Network (WEN), which impacts 27 million women and girls throughout the year.

“Even when Covid was still having an impact last year, a virtual event ended with 480 employees answering questions across the Cummins network. It was really inspiring to see how many people wanted to get involved and that’s our ethos at the company,” says Dave.

Cummins is a strong supporter of the Greenpower Education Trust, a charity that inspires young people in STEM subjects by challenging them to design, build and race electric cars.

Technical consultant Amit Kumar leads Cummins’ Greenpower Challenge, and his dedication, along with his overall contribution as a STEM ambassador, won him special recognition at the North East STEM Awards in Newcastle last December. Amit was unable to attend the event, but was presented with the award at the Darlington plant by Antonio Leitao, Vice President Off-Highway Engine Business.

“Amit is very passionate about what he does with Greenpower and it’s all voluntary,” says Dave. “During the pandemic, he took it upon himself to ensure that the initiative could continue virtually.”

Cummins also places a strong emphasis on work experience, with school children and university students able to join the site after a risk assessment. The aim is to start as early as possible, so 120 primary school children entered the Darlington site during March.

In addition, the company is expanding to university students on a gap year, with 51 internships in 2022, and another 57 this year.

For those who succeed in college, there is a two-year graduate program, with 31 graduates last year.

The business also offers apprenticeships and further apprenticeships in a range of disciplines including engineering, health and safety, finance and marketing. The courses are offered at two levels –3. form over three years, and form 6 over four years – and there were 35 apprentices at the Darlington site last year.

The northern echo: cummins employees at stem awards

The Northern Echo: Cummins employees at STEM awards

Cummins employees at the STEM Awards (Image: Cummins)

“Apprenticeships are open to all ages, not just young people, but also older people who want to recycle and try something different. They can move around different parts of the business and eventually apply for vacancies for some fantastic opportunities,” says Dave.

Every apprenticeship at the Darlington site over the past three years has led to a job and, with a further 11 apprentices starting in 2023, the success story continues.

Enthuse Partnerships are another way Cummins supports the STEM agenda. Starting last year and running into 2023, 10 schools with the potential to reach 4,000 children are undertaking a two-year program in the Darlington area where teachers and teaching assistants are given the knowledge and skills to raise aspirations. for a STEM career.

And, as if Cummins’ commitment to STEM needs to be further underlined, the company is the title sponsor of STEMFEST 2023, at the VERTU Motors Arena, Newcastle, on July 4, 5 and 6. More than 40 North East businesses will provide hands-on activities for around 3,000 school children while showcasing careers in the region’s STEM sector.

“It’s wonderful to see the personal experiences and conversations that happen at all these events and activities,” says Dave. “I’ll never forget the impact those conversations at the recreation center had on my life and if I can put even one young person on the right path, it’s all worth it.”

• Cummins is a partner in The Northern Echo’s Level Up campaign to showcase the region’s strengths and demand a fair deal on Government funding. The company will be taking part in the next Level Up event at Spectrum Business Park, Seaham, on March 30, with the theme being jobs, skills and education.

To learn more about Cummins’ career, go to:

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