Students learn the workings of motor manufacture at Sunderland plant

Apprenticeship coordinator Rob Dodds talks with Work Discovery Week participants Aariful Islam (15), Nicholas Chrisholm (15), Samantha Wilby (15) and Allison Atkin (16) from Thornhill School during the tour of the Unipres (UK) Limited site in Sunderland Picture: DAVID WOOD
Apprenticeship coordinator Rob Dodds talks with Work Discovery Week participants Aariful Islam (15), Nicholas Chrisholm (15), Samantha Wilby (15) and Allison Atkin (16) from Thornhill School during the tour of the Unipres (UK) Limited site in Sunderland Picture: DAVID WOOD
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Students got the inside track on the world of motor manufacturing as part of a prize organised by a leading Sunderland firm.

And it happened thanks to this year’s Work Discovery Week where hundreds of young people got involved in activities to help boost their employability and build relationships with companies in the region.

This was not only a great opportunity for these young people to see at first hand how a major company in the city works but it also shows the value of the Work Discovery Sunderland programme in building lasting relationships between employers and schools

Paul McEldon, co-chair of the Sunderland’s Economic Leadership Board Business Schools Task Group which set up Work Discovery Sunderland

Part of that involved a competition organised by motor vehicle parts maker, Unipres UK, which was an exhibitor at the opening day careers fair held at the Stadium of Light.

They asked pupils to guess the weight of a piece of equipment as part of an interactive display.

The winners and runners up received their prizes, which included a trip to the factory at Cherry Blossom Way.

Overall winner was Allison Atkin from Thornhill School who attended the visit, along with joint runners-up Kaitlin Mason of Venerable Bede Academy and Josh Watson of Biddick Academy.

Rob Dodds, apprentice co-ordinator at Unipres, said: “We had a great response from the schools at Work Discovery Week and with the winners who came to the factory.

“For us Work Discovery Week has been an excellent way for us to engage with schools in Sunderland which was very important to us and we’re looking forward to being involved in next year’s event.”

The winners met with key staff including managing director Gary Graham and were given a tour of the factory, along with watching a presentation about the company.

The prize winners also received gifts including vouchers, cinema tickets and games.

Paul McEldon, co-chair of the Sunderland’s Economic Leadership Board Business Schools Task Group which set up Work Discovery Sunderland, said: “This was not only a great opportunity for these young people to see at first hand how a major company in the city works but it also shows the value of the Work Discovery Sunderland programme in building lasting relationships between employers and schools.”

Work Discovery Week was launched in 2013 after the Business Schools Task Group identified a need for schools in Sunderland and businesses from across the region to have better relationships.

More than 1,000 school pupils have been involved each year, taking part in activities ranging from a careers fair, business challenges, visits to companies, workshops and hands-on activities. Many of the region’s biggest employers –including SAFC, Nissan, Gentoo, Sunderland University, Sunderland College and Arriva- support the event and its success has paved the way for a host of other activities including the sector days and guest speaker days. Work Discovery Week is already planned for 2016 and will run from June 27 to July 1.