ONE of the North East’s largest manufacturers has launched a post-lockdown recruitment drive that will create more than 80 skilled jobs in the next year.

Komatsu UK, based in Birtley, is creating the new jobs to service a host of new orders received from the domestic and European markets and to continue building its workforce for future growth.

The roles are in the factory and support departments, as well as ten new apprenticeship roles.

The recruitment drive is being overseen by Komatsu UK HR Manager, Katie O’Brien, who joined the excavator manufacturer in March. She said: “It is fantastic to join such a respected and well-established company at a time when we are preparing ourselves for considerable growth.

“So far we have filled around half of the roles across both production and support departments. Our focus now is on finding the right people for the remaining vacancies.

“Komatsu UK offers people a fantastic career with genuine pathways to develop skills and access promotion opportunities. I would urge anyone with a background and experience in the engineering sector and automotive or construction plant manufacturing to get in touch – KUK may have the perfect job for them."

The new jobs have been created in a variety of factory floor departments including production, assembly, paint shop, welding and fabrication, with support roles including purchasing, design and logistics.

The ten new apprentices will also fill a variety of positions in those departments.

“Like all businesses, Komatsu had to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances caused by the COVID pandemic throughout 2020 and into 2021,” said Managing Director Paul Blanchard.

“And it’s credit to all KUK employees that as we emerge from such a turbulent period in history, KUK remains in a healthy and robust position and ready to launch a significant recruitment drive.

“We take great pride in the way we invest in the development of our employees and everyone we take on in the coming months will be offered not only a varied and exciting career, but also the chance to enhance their knowledge, develop new skills and become part of a focused, committed workforce that has been part of the economic fabric of the North East for the past 34 years and global company for a century.”

Komatsu this year celebrates the global company’s 100th anniversary, marked by the planting of ten cherry blossom trees and a floral display at the entrance to the Birtley plant.

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Worldwide, Komatsu Group now consists of Komatsu Ltd and 262 other companies. It employs around 63,000 people and is the world's second largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment.

Komatsu UK has delivered excavators since establishing the plant in 1987, when it established a range of Japanese practices and ways of working unheard of in most UK plants.

Starting with 250 manufacturing and engineering roles, Komatsu was at the forefront of the creation of a whole new industry in the North East that centred around automotive and construction equipment manufacturing.