Bradford businesses giving opportunities to young people

Bradford Manufacturing Week

By Dave Baldwin

Lenworth George Henry didn’t seem destined for greatness. One of seven children from a Jamaican family in Dudley, he failed his 11-plus exam, went to the local secondary school and left at 16 with no qualifications. But he did have a science teacher, Mr Brookes, who encouraged his comedy ambitions by letting him use a reel-to-reel recorder to rehearse funny voices.

Now 61, Sir Lenny Henry is a much-loved comedian, actor, writer and bona fide national treasure. This month he visited Bradford as part of his book tour, Who Am I, Again? His show at the newly refurbished St George’s Hall promised funny and sad stories from growing up in the Black Country, covering school, friendship, family secrets and unashamed racism.

But without the encouragement of that kindly teacher, who knows how his life would have turned out. It is so important that children get the chance to follow their interests and discover their talents. In every classroom I believe there is potential greatness, just waiting to be unlocked.

It’s not just teachers and parents who hold the key. The old proverb reminds us it takes a whole village to raise a child, meaning that an entire community of people must interact with children for them to grow into well-adjusted adults. In Bradford, we are lucky to have a strong business community with a powerful sense of social responsibility.

This comes to the fore in the Bradford Manufacturing Weeks, delivered by Bradford Chamber of Commerce and backed by the Bradford Economic Partnership. This year’s initiative is on track to create 6,000 work experiences with 65 manufacturers involved, double the number of 2018’s inaugural programme.

Employers including Solenis, Acorn Stairlifts, Produmax, Keighley Laboratories and Melrose Interiors are organising work placements, school talks and site tours for 14-18-year-old school pupils. As well as helping boost apprenticeship numbers, these can also give young people a glimpse of the inspiring, innovative and rewarding enterprises creating wealth and prosperity across our district.

An estimated 45 secondary schools took part in this year’s scheme, which has won national praise. Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson said: “Following on from last year’s success, I know Bradford Manufacturing Weeks can go from strength to strength, with more businesses and young people involved.

“In my speech to Conservative Party conference, I said how apprenticeships and technical and vocational education are just as important and as valuable as going to university and are just as important to our economy. They can make sure Britain succeeds in the future.

“And it is excellent projects like this that can show young people some of the exciting and valuable opportunities there and give them the belief that with the right help and support they can achieve anything they want.”

Mr Williamson, a social sciences graduate of Bradford University, knows the importance of the state education system; he is the product of a Scarborough comprehensive school and is married to a former primary teacher.

Nick Garthwaite, managing director of Bradford-based laundry detergent manufacturer Christeyns, is the founder of Bradford Manufacturing Weeks. He said: “It’s fantastic to receive support from the Government which further demonstrates that we are on absolutely the right track with our initiative. We have created a model that is working and most importantly, a model which gives young people an insight into the wonderful world of manufacturing and in many cases, it is proving a game changer in their career decision-making process.”

Mr Garthwaite added: “That said, businesses, education providers and the Government have a lot more work to do to promote the apprenticeship programmes to make them become an even more attractive option. This is why Bradford Manufacturing Weeks is such an important part of our district’s business calendar and why we intend to grow the participants, the experiences and the momentum in years to come.”

Every pupil should be able to have meaningful encounters with employers in Bradford. We know this will dramatically increase their chances of success in the workplace. At a deeper level, simply encouraging young people to follow their interests and discover their talents can be incredibly powerful. As Sir Lenny says, “we all bloom towards the sunlight”.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson backs “excellent” Bradford Manufacturing Weeks initiative

Bradford Manufacturing Weeks

Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson CBE has praised Bradford Manufacturing Weeks as an “excellent” initiative.

Commenting as organisers confirm that more than double the number of manufacturers and schools are involved since the inaugural event in 2018, Mr Williamson said:

“Following on from last year’s success, I know Bradford Manufacturing Weeks can go from strength to strength, with more businesses and young people involved. 

“In my speech to Conservative conference earlier this month, I said how apprenticeships and technical and vocational education are just as important and as valuable as going to university and are just as important to our economy. They can make sure Britain succeeds in the future.

“And it is excellent projects like this that can show young people some of the exciting and valuable opportunities there and give them the belief that with the right help and support they can achieve anything they want.” 

Bradford Manufacturing Weeks is a West and North Yorkshire Chamber initiative, delivered by Bradford Chamber of Commerce. In the second week of its second year, the project is now on track for creating 6,000 work experiences with 65 manufacturers involved, which is double the number of 2018. Forty five secondary schools are also participating in this year’s scheme.

Local employers including Solenis, Acorn Stairlifts, Produmax, Keighley Laboratories and Melrose Interiors are facilitating work placements, school talks and site tours for 14-18-year-old school pupils. Backed by the Bradford Economic Partnership, the initiative is introducing the district’s manufacturers to young people to help boost apprenticeship numbers by creating more inspired, informed and ‘work ready’ applicants into the sector.

The calendar of school and manufacturer events which includes the district’s very first ‘Bradford Apprentices Live’ event and a ‘Driver Awareness Day’ in partnership with West Yorkshire Fire Service and West Yorkshire Police to encourage safe driving among young apprentices, is sponsored by Barclays, Naylor Wintersgill, Gordons LLP, Mitton Group, Dale Carnegie UK, E3 Recruitment, the University of Bradford and Leeds Bradford Airport.

Initiative founder and managing director of Bradford-based laundry detergent manufacturer Christeyns, Nick Garthwaite, said: “It’s fantastic to receive support from the Government which further demonstrates that we are on absolutely the right track with our Bradford Manufacturing Weeks initiative. We have created a model that is working and most importantly, a model which gives young people an insight into the wonderful world of manufacturing and in many cases, it is proving a game changer in their career decision making process.”

Nick added: “That said, businesses, education providers and the Government have a lot more work to do to promote the apprenticeship programmes to make them become an even more attractive option. This is why Bradford Manufacturing Weeks is such an important part of our district’s business calendar and why we intend to grow the participants, the experiences and the momentum in years to come.”

Students and businesses celebrate the start of Bradford Manufacturing Weeks

Bradford Manufacturing Weeks

More than 50 local students, businesses and dignitaries gathered in Bradford for a tour of a 38-acre manufacturing facility to kickstart a fortnight of events for Bradford Manufacturing Weeks 2019.

Attendees at water solutions and chemical manufacturer, Solenis, included 12 students from three schools – Dixons Allerton Academy, Parkside School and Appleton Academy – alongside MP Judith Cummins and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership Chair, Roger Marsh, OBE.

Organisers believe Bradford Manufacturing Weeks is set to provide almost 6,000 manufacturing experiences to pupils of 45 Bradford secondary schools and colleges in the district. More than 65 local manufacturers will facilitate work placements, school talks and site tours for 14-18-year-old school pupils. The initiative, led by Bradford Chamber and backed by the Bradford Economic Partnership, is introducing the district’s manufacturers to young people to help boost apprenticeship numbers by creating more inspired, informed and ‘work ready’ applicants into the sector.

During the launch event, attendees heard about the initiative from founder, Nick Garthwaite, as well as hearing about the Leeds City Region’s support for the district and Bradford Manufacturing Weeks from Roger Marsh.

Addressing the attendees, Roger Marsh said that Bradford Manufacturing Weeks is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the might of manufacturing in the district. He said: “Bradford has a lot to be proud of – we must be positive about what we have to offer. Through engaging young people manufacturers are thinking not only of their employees of today, but also considering their employees of tomorrow.”

Experiencing the vast manufacturing site for themselves, Parkside School student, Albert Lawler said: “I didn’t know what to expect and I have really enjoyed exploring Solenis. This experience has changed my outlook on manufacturing massively in a positive way.”

Dave Calder, site manager at Solenis, said: “We were delighted to host the launch of Bradford Manufacturing Weeks 2019. Having been involved last year, we recognise the importance of showcasing the opportunities available within manufacturing. Over the next two weeks we are offering work experience opportunities and site tours to schools. It’s an amazing initiative that brings together our manufacturing community to help potential future employees realise that there is a vast range of careers available.”

The calendar of school and manufacturer events is a West & North Yorkshire chamber initiative and is sponsored by Barclays, Naylor Wintersgill, Gordons LLP, Mitton Group, Dale Carnegie UK, E3 Recruitment, the University of Bradford and Leeds Bradford Airport.

Of supporting the weeks, Judith Cummins MP said: “I am proud to continue to support this initiative. Bradford Manufacturing Weeks has gone from strength to strength; now involving over 40 Bradford secondary schools and providing over 4000 manufacturing experiences for students. I know how much hard work has gone into organising these two weeks, and I want to congratulate the businesses, schools and students involved.”

Nick Garthwaite, founder of Bradford Manufacturing Weeks and managing director of international chemicals and detergents manufacturer Christeyns said: “It was fantastic to kick start the weeks at one of Bradford’s many magnificent manufacturing sites. It is thanks to employers like Solenis that we are on target to hit 6,000 experiences for young people this year, which is more than double what we achieved last year.”

He added: “I can’t wait to hear about the experiences and outcomes of the next two weeks – I hope Bradford’s manufacturers are ready for an influx of apprenticeship applications!”

Bradford Manufacturing Weeks 2019 runs from the 7–18 October. For more information and to register for key events see the Bradford Manufacturing Weeks website and for regular updates follow @Bradfordmfg on Twitter.