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Business & Economy

Investment in skills and equipment fuels Tyneside Safety Glass growth

A glass processing specialist with more than 80 years’ history has outlined ambitious growth plans that will be supported by a skills programme with Gateshead College.

Tyneside Safety Glass, which supplies toughened, laminated, heated and bullet-resistant glass to the defence, motor sports, passenger transport and construction industries, has increased annual turnover to £14m on the back of recent contract wins, notably with high-profile bus and coach firms.

The Team Valley-based firm recently invested £2m in new equipment to cement its position in the niche high-value glass products market – a strategic move that requires an influx of new skills.

With assistance from Gateshead College, the company embarked on a mission to develop new talent through apprenticeships. Together the two organisations created a Performing Manufacturing Operations (PMO) skills programme, which allows apprentices to learn about manufacturing preparation, processes and techniques, quality control and workplace health and safety. They also acquire transferrable skills in effective communication, teamwork and industrial environmental practices.

Chris Hannant, managing director of Tyneside Safety Glass, said: “The skills drive is part of our wider aim to introduce new young employees into our business who will help to support our on-going growth plans in key market sectors. After investing in various training programmes during the last eight years, this is the first time we’ve worked with Gateshead College and we’re impressed with both their keenness to understand our business and their overall approach to workforce development.”

“They’ve acknowledged our need to find staff with the right attitude who are capable of acquiring skills that will help strengthen our position in specialist markets. This strategy has been driven by the increased competition faced from larger, high-volume glass manufacturers in China.”

One of the PMO apprentices at Tyneside Safety Glass is 19-year-old James Fiddes, who completed an employability course at Gateshead College before taking up his current position.

James, from Dunston, said: “I’m looking forward to progressing my career at such an established company. My employability course was ideal preparation for my apprenticeship and I’m grateful for the ongoing help I’m getting from the college and Tyneside Safety Glass.”

Tyneside Safety Glass, which employs around 200 staff, is also working with Gateshead College on a separate programme that will see around ten staff complete forklift truck training. The programme is being delivered by Tyneside Training Services, a subsidiary of Gateshead College, and funded through the European Social Fund.

Ivan Jepson, director of business development at Gateshead College, said: “It’s great to see Tyneside Safety Glass invest in its staff. It’s true that people are an employer’s best asset and by having the right skills within the business, a company can pursue and achieve ambitious growth plans.

“We’re proud to be playing a key role in the ongoing expansion of Tyneside Safety Glass.”