Hundreds of people applied for jobs following a major recruitment drive by award-winning Teesside company which makes chilled food for the UK’s biggest supermarkets.
On the back of one its most successful years in its history, SK Chilled Foods advertised for 32 new roles based at its South Bank and Riverside facilities in Middlesbrough.
Over 800 people applied for a variety of jobs, including Production Line Leaders, Engineers and Quality Auditors, and 21 people have now been appointed and started work for the company.
They include 27-year-old James Robson, from Eston, who has started as a Line Leader at South Bank.
This means he is responsible for overseeing one of the many food production lines at the facility.
James joined SK from another food company in North Yorkshire, but says he is already seeing a big difference.
He explained: “In my previous job I was literally thrown in at the deep end with very little induction or support, so it was quite daunting.
“Here, before anyone was appointed, we were invited to an open day so we could have a look around the facility so we knew exactly what sort of environment we would be working in.
“There was then a very thorough induction process and for the first few weeks we were all allocated an existing member of staff so they could shadow and help us settle in.
“I had heard good things about SK prior to applying and I am enjoying it and really happy to be here.”
In James’ case, being on one of the production lines can involve making 80,000 pieces of product, such as an onion bhaji, in just one shift. This includes ensuring that each bhaji is made to the exact specification required by a supermarket.
James added: “I know I have only been here a short time, but I already receiving further training which will enable me to progress within the company. My next sights are set on becoming a supervisor.”
James’ current supervisor, Tony Lynas, said: “I have been very impressed with James; his attitude and attention to detail is fantastic.”
Julie Knight, SK Chilled Foods’ Head of HR, said: “We were delighted with the response we received to the recruitment campaign and with the calibre of people who applied.
“The focus was then to ensure that we retained the people we recruited because in the manufacturing industry, if there is turnover, it tends to happen in the first six months of employment.
“So, that’s why we held the open day at the two facilities because we understand that food production is not for everybody, so by giving them an insight before they committed to anything at least they could make an informed decision.
“The new training programme we have introduced started with our existing employees and asking them what was missing from their induction and we used their feedback to introduce new things like the ‘buddy’ system.
“Everyone was also issued with all the equipment they need before they started, rather than just on their first day when they already have lots of things to digest.
“And we encouraged the new starters to pop up to see us for a tea or coffee if they had any questions or concerns.
“In the first weeks it’s all about settling in and building relationships, and we then carry out regular reviews and offer staff continuous training.
“It’s a model that works and one we will now be adopting for all new starters going forward.”