Ford aims to bridge the gap in skills

A bold bid to train youngsters for the world of industry is being launched through the opening of a new academy

Geoff Ford MBE
Geoff Ford MBE

A bold bid to train youngsters for the world of industry is being launched through the opening of a new academy by a respected and progressive North East manufacturing company.

The initiative by aerospace and high technology industries’ parts maker Ford (Ford Aerospace Limited and Ford Component Manufacturing Limited) will see a first group of 12 trainees receive instruction on machinery in-house, education in dedicated teaching rooms, and work experience placements.

The exciting and creative mix is designed to identify talented youngsters with the ability to work in manufacturing and overcome a sector skills gap by creating a workforce for the future.

Prominent early success has come through the support of South Tyneside College, which has joined in partnership with Ford to run the programme and provide training.

A number of well-known regional businesses are also expected to open their doors to students to provide work experience – a vital component of the academy plan.

It is hoped they will provide employment for trainees after their six months of training.

The academy is the brainchild of Geoff Ford MBE, the chairman of Ford Aerospace, at Tyne Dock, South Shields, and Ford Component Manufacturing Ltd, which has plants at Monkton Business Park, South Tyneside, and Silverfox Way, North Shields.

He said: “It is recognised that manufacturing needs young people to ensure it can operate to its full potential and be a great driving force for economic growth and productivity.

“Undoubtedly there is a skills shortage, and initiatives like the Ford academy can make a real difference to the future success of manufacturing and to the young people whose skills and talents it will help recognise.”

A separate workshop at Ford Aerospace’s Tyne Dock headquarters, where its laminate products are made and processed, is to be converted into a training centre.

It will contain a range of equipment provided by key Ford suppliers and enthusiastic Academy supporters Haas Automation and Cromwell on which the youngsters will train with the input of lecturers.

Classrooms are also being prepared on site.

The traineeship will be five days a week for six months, while absorbing the equivalent of six full weeks of work experience.

As well as a guaranteed job interview, those coming out of the traineeship can also progress directly on to Level 3 college courses.

Alison Maynard, the college’s director of curriculum planning and learner engagement, said: “The academy has been a key ambition of the college and Ford, and we are working hard to bring it to fruition.

“There are many benefits to all involved, especially the young people on whom the future of manufacturing and engineering relies.”

For further information on the Ford Academy opportunities contact Marie Flatman on 0191 427 3900 or email marie.flatman@stc.ac.uk

More information on South Tyneside College is at www.stc.ac.uk .

For more on Ford Aerospace or Ford Component Manufacturing is available via www.ford-aerospace.com .

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer