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Bradford Manufacturing Week hailed a success by all involved

The first ever Bradford Manufacturing Week has been hailed a success by education providers and local manufacturers with organisers now pledging to make it a longer initiative in 2019.

At an evaluation meeting with the event’s steering group last week, it was confirmed that 100% of the schools that took part in manufacturing site tours rated the experience as high or very high quality.

Feedback also included the high quality of the work experience saying there was something for everyone, a range of localities covered and a good mix of industries to be experienced.

Of the schools who completed the evaluation survey which was undertaken by Bradford Manufacturing Week’s education and careers partner, Aspire-igen, 100% felt their students benefitted from taking part in the Week’s activities and a further 100% said the Week had helped them achieve at least one ‘Gatsby’ benchmark – the framework of eight guidelines used by the Government to define the best careers provision in schools and colleges.

Half of the district’s 50 secondary schools took part alongside 40 manufacturers in more than 143 events and 3,000 work experiences including work experience days, tours, employer talks and life skills events for students aged 14 to 19. Students from Bradford’s One In A Million Free School were joined by managing director of Melrose Textiles, Andy Murphy. Vice Principal Andy Haughey said the talk left pupils feeling inspired, engaged and interested in the manufacturing sector.

“Andy brought a real energy into the room and the information he shared, which was supported by ‘props’ and examples of the fabrics they work with, really engaged students. His one-hour presentation prompted lots of questions from the youngsters in the room and has led to an ongoing relationship between the school and Melrose Textiles that we feel we will benefit from for years to come.”

Bradford Manufacturing Week 2018 was a West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce initiative sponsored by Barclays, Naylor Wintersgill, Gordons LLP, Leeds, Bradford Airport, Bradford University, Invest in Bradford and Mitton Group that showcased the district’s manufacturing might by engaging with young people and educating them around the career opportunities available in the manufacturing sector.

Andy Murphy, Managing Director of Melrose Textiles in Allerton, Bradford said: “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 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.”

He added: “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.”

Bradford is an economy built on manufacturing with 1,200 businesses employing 23,000 people – the fourth highest of any city district in the UK . Bradford Manufacturing Week brought the local issues of apprenticeships, skills gap and employability onto a national platform with Prime Minister Theresa May praising the initiative and Bradford South MP Judith Cummins raising the issues in Parliament.

Nick Garthwaite, brainchild behind the initiative and President of Bradford Chamber of Commerce, said that the success of Bradford Manufacturing Week 2018 highlights the need to improve school pupils’ experience of manufacturing and future proof the industry by inspiring the next generation of employees to consider a career in manufacturing.

He added: “We are looking closely at creating ‘Bradford’s Manufacturing Weeks’ in the future where we dedicate at least a fortnight in October to organising school and manufacturing experiences. More time means more experiences and more value to even more young people in Bradford.

“We owe it to the next generation to extend our initiative and involve even more employers in the district – we firmly believe we can at least double the number of schools and businesses involved in 2019.”