Bradford Manufacturing Weeks legacy unveiled as countdown to 2019 initiative

Recognising the benefits Bradford’s Manufacturing Weeks are bringing – last year’s event saw 3,000 manufacturing experiences offered to pupils aged 16 and above. The 2018 event introduced me to six local employers and ensured the school met five and six of the eight Gatsby benchmarks in just three months.

Achieving the Gatsby benchmarks is important for us but what really matters is engaging with young people in a way which makes them see the opportunities and potential – not only in business but in themselves.

Building on the legacy of last year’s inaugural event, Bradford Manufacturing Weeks 2019 – running from October 7-18 - will give young people the opportunity to go behind the scenes of some of the district’s manufacturers and see the possibilities of professions they may not have considered – or even realised were available.

Launched by Bradford Chamber of Commerce and co-ordinated by career specialists Aspire-igen, the event is delivering more than 4,000 manufacturing experiences over two weeks and is endorsed by Bradford Council, Bradford Economic Partnership and Bradford University and made possible by key sponsors and supporters including Barclays, Bradford accountants Naylor Wintersgill; Bradford law firm Gordons; building services specialists Mitton; professional training and development company Dale Carnegie; E3 Recruitment, Bradford University and Leeds Bradford Airport.

Now organisers want to involve more businesses in this not-for-profit event which unites manufacturers, schools, young people and parents through tours, work experiences, seminars and learning events at companies and key locations across the district.

Robert Fairbairn, business and careers lead at Oastler School, Bradford

The success stories from last year’s event speak for themselves

Mark Viner, managing director of Skipton-based Guyson International Ltd, a leading blast, ultrasonic and spray washing equipment manufacturer who hosted South Craven School, Keighley College and Skipton Girls High, said previously they were so impressed by the students they met during the event they offered two apprenticeships.

Kyle Elliott, 18, from Eastburn secured his mechanical design engineer apprenticeship through Guyson after they visited South Craven School.

The 18-year-old from Eastburn is now carrying on the baton from his grandfathers who both worked in engineering – one worked in aerospace and the other was a sheet metal worker – thanks to Bradford Manufacturing Week.

Kyle explains the event introduced him to a career he would never have thought to pursue.

Since joining Guyson this month, he has already spent time seeing how the different departments work and is looking forward to an exciting future with the firm.

“It has opened my eyes - I never thought about ultra sonic cleaning and blast finishing,” said Kyle.

“I have now secured a job for the next four years and further on from there. Without it Bradford Manufacturing Week I would not be where I am and I wouldn’t have a clear understanding of where I want to be in future. It has opened up my eyes to so many different areas of engineering and there is a sector for everyone.”

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Ben Bott, from Bradford, visited aerospace component manufacturer, Produmax, where he secured a three-year mechanical engineering apprenticeship in August this year.

The 16-year-old former Hanson Academy student spent two weeks at the Shipley-based company before embarking on an 18-week course at Keighley College which will allow him to put his knowledge into practice within the workforce.

Ben said previously of his experience, that working alongside staff on the shop floor during his placement ‘was a real honour.’

Now he is working alongside them - and loving every minute of it.

“On the first day it was surreal – I looked at my lanyard and it said employee – before I was on a work placement here – it was a brilliant feeling,” he said.

Ben particularly loves being ‘hands-on.’

“That is one of the reasons I aspired to go for an apprenticeship. It allows me to be flexible – I like to be hands-on,” he said.

He said he cannot thank Bradford Chamber and its Bradford Manufacturing Week enough for the opportunity it has brought him.

“It’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. This apprenticeship is going to be my future – it’s the best thing I could ever have done and it’s all thanks to Bradford Manufacturing Week,” said Ben.

And he already has his sights set on the future… “I aspire to finish my college course and progress further in the company. They are a brilliant company and I would like to stay with them long term,” he added.

Mandy Ridyard, financial director at Produmax, said:

“For me it’s about being able to show people that are in school that there are other options, apart from the ones that tend to jump to the top of their parents or their school teachers lists. I want them to see manufacturing and engineering for themselves so that is why we have supported Bradford Manufacturing Week last year and this year.

“For us it’s about re-setting the profile of manufacturing, so people realise what modern manufacturing is all about, and what a rewarding career it is.”

Nishta Watkiss, marketing executive at Keighley-based specialist fastening system manufacturer, GESIPA, who also took part in Bradford Manufacturing Week 2018 and is involved again in 2019, said they were conscious of bridging the skills gap and also giving young people the opportunity to gain manufacturing experience.

In 2018 students from the science department at South Craven School, Cross hills and Parkside School, Cullingworth gained an insight into GESIPA’s operations through factory tours and team building exercises. Parents have been invited in too to raise awareness of the roles on offer.

“It is the responsibility of any business in the area to make sure that children have the right experience in terms of the business world,” said Nishta.

“You can teach them as much as you want, but in the real world they need to know what goes on there.

“The benefit goes both ways – the students get to know what goes on in the business and what kind of different job roles there are, what subjects they need to go into to explore their interests in different roles in business and, on the other side, businesses like ours want to attract a younger workforce – we are investing in the future.”

Robert Fairbairn, business and careers lead at Oastler School in Bradford, who confirms that Bradford Manufacturing Week 2018 led to work placements, experiences and engagements for all of the Year 10 students at the school, added:

“Achieving the Gatsby benchmarks is important for us but what really matters is engaging with young people in a way which makes them see the opportunities and potential – not only in business but in themselves.

“Providing opportunities to meet and speak with local employers is key but with demands for our time coming from so many different areas, the value of an initiative which creates and provides those opportunities is like gold dust.

“Since attending our first Bradford Manufacturing Week event in September 2018, the benefits have literally mushroomed and we’ve gone from having no employer partners to six – a number which continues to grow. Of course we’re onboard again for 2019 – it’s one of the highlights of our annual calendar.”

Andy Murphy, managing director of Wibsey-based Melrose Interiors, said the event last year inspired them to create entirely new apprenticeships within the business and gave them the opportunity to talk to pupils about a manufacturing career.

“We were involved with visits from two schools – Bradford Girls Grammar and One in a Million – and we learnt just as much from the pupils as they did from us. Managing our talent pipeline is hugely important and Bradford Manufacturing Week 2018 helped us look closely at our workplace offering and reassess our business culture, based on what we saw and heard from the young people who visited us,” said Andy.

“Thanks to this initiative, we’ve now had an insight into what switches young people on which will definitely help us attract the next generation of manufacturers into our business. We’re repeating our involvement again and with the changes we have made to our business, fully expect this year to attract apprentices from Bradford Manufacturing Weeks to our growing team in 2020.”

Event founder, Nick Garthwaite, former Bradford Chamber of Commerce president and managing director of Bradford-based international chemicals and detergents manufacturer, Christeyns, said businesses are putting their ‘heart and soul’ into the event and enjoying the experience along with older workers who are keen to share their skills and expertise with young visitors.

Nick said the event was also providing teachers with ‘an alternative view of how to access the world of work by showing businesses in action.’

“The other legacy is the relationship is being maintained between the schools and businesses – that has kept on throughout 2019 and I feel confident that will continue for 2020 and beyond,” he added.

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