Young people from Epinay Business and Enterprise School in South Shields have visited Ford Aerospace to find out more about what a career in manufacturing is really like.
Twelve young people with additional needs visited the Ford Aerospace site in Port of Tyne to learn more about the opportunities open to them here in the region, speak to the team about their career paths, and see first-hand what life is like in a global manufacturing business.
Ford Aerospace has a long-standing commitment to providing opportunities for young people in the North East through its award-winning apprenticeship scheme, and this visit was the first step in ensuring that the business moves to become a more inclusive and empowering workplace for young people with a variety of skills. Quality manager Nathan McCully led a tour of the factory floor with the young people getting the opportunity to get up close to a variety of parts coming through production, ask questions about the types of roles in the factory, and learn more about Ford Aerospace’s essential place in the global supply chain.
Nicola Ford, commercial office manager at Ford Aerospace said, “For a lot of young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, getting access to employers to understand where their skills might fit is tough, often impossible. We hope that visits like this will inspire these young people to think about what they are interested in, what they are good at, and where that might fit in a business like Ford Aerospace. The business has been here in South Shields for 114 years and we are committed to continuing our vision to bring opportunities for meaningful, skilled employment to the next generation of talent.
“While many companies focus on diversity and inclusion as a social cause, there is a lack of understanding of where people with additional needs or disabilities can add real value to the workforce, I think that is a missed opportunity, especially for manufacturing. There is a skills gap in the sector and becoming more inclusive can bring new, unique skills in particular roles – it just takes businesses to look at where those skills can be a good fit and invest in training to create work environments that get the most out of people.”
Kate Simpson, assistant head teacher at Epinay School said, “The opportunity for our young people to get first-hand experience of a business like Ford Aerospace will have a huge impact. There is already one member of the group who is talking about what a career in engineering might be like for him, and I hope that it makes all of the young people feel inspired and proud of the kinds of businesses that are right here on our doorstep. These opportunities are rare for our pupils and I hope more businesses in the region embrace the chance to open their doors to young people like ours, it was a fantastic experience that they will be talking about for a while.”
Earlier in the year Ford Aerospace announced an investment of over £1 million in advanced manufacturing equipment and strengthening its team with senior skills as the business continues to grow.
The business, which was acquired in April 2023 by SPIROL, a family-owned manufacturing group headquartered in the US, has invested in equipment that will allow the team to grow production capabilities, increase the size of the components that can be produced, and enable more accurate inspection of parts. The visit from Epinay School is just part of the business’s continued investment in people and commitment to future skills in the region.