The launch event for Bradford Manufacturing Weeks 2020 heard how the initiative will inspire the district’s young people to pursue a career where their skills will help solve world problems.
More than 30 attendees from the business, manufacturing and political arenas – including lead sponsors Barclays – joined the West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce zoom launch event on Monday (5 October) to hear from manufacturers, education providers and pupils about the hopes and expectations from the initiative.
The virtual launch featured an exclusive look behind the scenes at the global manufacturer Acorn Stairlift’s Steeton headquarters and an introduction, from factory manager Andrew Longthorne, to key members of its 350-strong manufacturing team who help produce the company’s 60,000 stairlifts each year.
With an additional welcome from Bradford South MP Judith Cummins, an address from University of Bradford Vice-Chancellor Shirley Congdon and insights into the importance and value of the week from teachers and pupils of Beckfoot Upper Heaton school – part of the Beckfoot Trust – the one-hour event kicked off two weeks of online manufacturer experiences.
Speaking of the “critical” nature of the event, Shirley Congdon said the continuation of Bradford Manufacturing Weeks will support Bradford’s post-Covid-19 economic recovery and reinforce the emphasis on innovation and skills as a key growth area for the wider Leeds City Region.
“Bradford is critical to the North’s recovery and while we all know manufacturing is important to our economic future, the significance around creating an army of value-led, problem solving future manufacturing ambassadors must not be under-estimated. Bradford Manufacturing Weeks uses local manufacturers to inspire goal-setting and empowerment around issues such as ethical manufacturing and will make our district fit for the future, ensuring the next generation can and will address world problems with Bradford-born solutions.”
Pupils of Beckfoot Upper Heaton school, Phoenix Emmanuel and Ibraheem Qasi, joined assistant head for personal development, Louise Morgan and assistant faculty leader for vocational & engineering Dave Hudson to watch the launch event from the classroom and told guests of the true value of the initiative which “could not come at a better time.”
Louise said: “Because we’re restricted with what employer opportunities we can currently provide, we really want to introduce as many experiences as possible for our students who have been at home for almost six months.
“Over the next fortnight our learners will discover how exciting a career in manufacturing could be and if, as we expect, they see something to pin their ambitions on, it will help give them a career focus throughout their school life, helping them feel inspired to work harder and achieve their potential.”
She added: “Bradford Manufacturing Weeks lifts learning off the page. It shows pupils that learning need not take place solely in a classroom, but that there are other experiences out there and that these opportunities are actually for them.
“So many students have missed out this year and now we really want to make up for lost time.”
Led by West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce and with primary sponsorship from Barclays, support from career specialists Aspire-igen and funding from E3 Recruitment, Naylor Wintersgill, Gordons LLP and Bradford Council, since 2018 Bradford Manufacturing Weeks has introduced students to a career in manufacturing through onsite and in-person employment experiences. Due to Covid-19 the two-week initiative from 5 – 16 October is entirely online with more than 40 manufacturer events spread across 10 days.
Nick Garthwaite, chairman of West and North Yorkshire Chamber of commerce and managing director of laundry detergent manufacturer Christeyns, added: “Manufacturers of products from textiles to automotive components have stepped up to this year’s digital initiative and are providing career insight, behind the scenes tours and advice and guidance to hundreds of young people across Bradford district.
“Because of Covid-19, there is much talk of agility, innovation and business continuation and we are proud and privileged to be part of a manufacturing business community which has adapted to continued working and is united wanting to ensure our young people are supported in their career journey.”