February 13, 2019 @ 12:39 by Richard Dawson
One of the region’s blue-chip manufacturers is celebrating after being named the sector’s best for school engagement.
Car parts maker Unipres UK was presented with the Invest South Tyneside School Engagement Award at the North East Automotive Alliance Awards 2019.
The award recognises companies in the automotive sector that can demonstrate outstanding practices for school engagement and have, in turn, driven genuine business benefit.
Unipres is one of the most proactive employers and providers of apprenticeships within the North East’s manufacturing sector and prides itself on promoting from within, having invested in the Unipres Training Academy at Washington Business Centre, in 2017.
At the heart of this commitment is the company’s School Engagement Programme, which is fully supported across the entire business from the Training Academy to the boardroom.
Rob Dodds, Apprentice Coordinator at Unipres, said: “We have invested greatly in our school engagement programme over the years and we’re delighted with the results it has yielded.
“Last year, our Silver Accredited Industrial Cadet Programme celebrated its 150th graduate and March 2018 saw one of our cadets, a young female maintenance technician apprentice, become runner up for the Industrial Cadet of the Year Award, which was presented by Prince Charles.
“As a sector, it’s vital that we continue to invest in our region’s skills base and have a steady pipeline of highly skilled workers ready to come through, which is why initiatives like this are so important.
“To receive this award is testament to the hard work of everyone here at Unipres, from the senior management team to the engineers, quality, HR, health and safety and training teams who all participate in the programme. It’s a real collaborative effort.”
Unipres works closely with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and has two dedicated careers enterprise advisors working with the Link School Sunderland and Biddick Academy Washington helping them deliver careers insight and guidance to students.
In 2018, the firm engaged with schools, colleges and universities from across 12 local authority areas, through delivery of in-house outreach activities, participation in wider school based career events and regional inspiration events.
The North East Automotive Awards 2019 ceremony was held at the Roker Hotel in Sunderland. The awards, sponsored by MAKE it Sunderland, are designed to celebrate the outstanding achievements of companies and individuals within the North East automotive sector and help further raise the profile of the industry.
As a prize for winning the award, Unipres not only received a trophy but also a cheque for £1,500 – to go towards a school automotive or STEM project of its choice.
Unipres Operations Director, John Cruddace, said: “We want Unipres to be an employer of choice – somewhere where young people, of all levels of academic achievement, aspire to build a career.
“The key to successful engagement with youngsters is to continue supporting and recognising just how important school engagement is to secure the workforce of the future and awards like this do exactly that.
“Looking forward, as the company continues to go from strength-to-strength in school engagement, we have plans to help other manufacturers engage with local institutions and raise awareness of the opportunities available to young people in the sector by continuing to have Apprenticeship Ambassadors within the business and being members of the North East Apprenticeship Ambassador Network.”