Sunderland firms sign up to support industry academy

Wearside firms have pledged their support for a new training academy to tackle skills shortages in manufacturing and engineering.

By Kevin Clark
Monday, 25 March, 2019, 05:00
(from left) apprentices Liam Rowden and Matthew Reilly with Gateshead College tutor Anthony Jeff

Sunderland automotive specialists Adient and Unpres and crane manufacturer Liebherr are among 15 firms to sign up to be part of the Ford Engineering Academy, a training programme informed by industry and developed with Gateshead College to help the region’s manufacturing and engineering sectors build sustainable workforces for the future.

The companies will provide placements for students who secure places with the Ford Engineering Academy – and some will offer apprenticeships for talented individuals who stand out.

Students spend a year at Gateshead College’s Skills Academy for Automotive and Engineering in Team Valley, mastering the core skills and competencies needed for key engineering tasks while also studying English and maths and learning about health and safety and work preparation methods.

Chris Ford, managing director of Ford Engineering, said: “We have had some amazing young people through the academy already who have gone on to secure apprenticeships. Having more businesses offer work placement opportunities is only going to add to the experience for our learners.”

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Food packaging supplier Graphic Packaging International is one of the businesses to come on board. The company is taking on two students, Jamie Brown and Josh Prendagast, on an eight-week work placement and has guaranteed to offer them an apprenticeship at the end of it.

HR manager Julie Nicholson said: “There are severe skills shortages in the manufacturing and engineering sectors and it’s important for the future of our business that we do something to tackle the problem. We’re invested in supporting young people and feel the programme is an ideal way to recruit and bring fresh talent and skills to our team.”

A recruitment event will be held at the Skills Academy for Automotive and Engineering on Tuesday, May 7.