Pupils interview manufacturers at flagship Bradford Manufacturing Week event

Representatives from four major West Yorkshire manufacturers were ‘grilled’ by local school pupils in an event held to mark Bradford Manufacturing Week.

More than 30 pupils from across Bradford came face to face with representatives from refrigeration specialists Epta George Barker, metal heat treatment specialists Keighley Laboratories, Seabrook Crisps, international chemicals and detergents manufacturer Christeyns UK and manufacturing specialist recruiters The Works at the Bradford Manufacturing LIVE event on Thursday 11 October.

Covering issues such as finding the best route into manufacturing, rates of pay and the future of manufacturing during the 40-minute question and answer session, dialogue was initiated from the teenagers in the room and through real-time posts on Twitter.

Nick Garthwaite, managing director of Christeyns UK, president of Bradford Chamber and creator of Bradford Manufacturing Week, said he was ’blown away’ by the enthusiasm, the interest and the engagement from the students.

“Bradford Manufacturing LIVE was a real high point in our event line up for the Week because it really got the pupils thinking, talking and asking the questions that were important to them,” he said.

“The students had really done their research, and many addressed the big issues in manufacturing such as employing women, attracting young people to the sector and whether apprenticeships are the right route to take. Utilising Twitter also meant we could engage with an even wider audience of young people on a platform they are familiar and comfortable with. Between social media and the interactions in the room, we answered around 20 questions put to us – we were euphoric by the end of the session and agreed, it’s certainly an event to be repeated during Bradford Manufacturing Week 2019.”

Geoff Mills, commercial director for Epta George Barker, agreed that the event was pivotal in introducing young people to the personalities behind Bradford’s manufacturing scene.

“We were delighted to play our part in Bradford Manufacturing Week, with Martin Peel and I representing Epta on the expert panel for Bradford Manufacturing LIVE as well as welcoming pupils to our refrigerated display cabinet manufacturing facility throughout the week.

Geoff added: “The live event showed how important manufacturing is to the region and demonstrated just how much enthusiasm there is for it. I was particularly impressed with some of the questions posed by the students and look forward to supporting similar events and initiatives in the future.”

Craig Burton, managing director of The Works Recruitment, who helped organise the event, added that he was impressed by how all the students had prepared questions and how they addressed the big issues in manufacturing.

“Questions included whether there were enough women in manufacturing, attracting young people to the sector and the value of a degree in a manufacturing career,” Craig explained. “Engagement from the pupils was exceptional and many stayed to ask more questions after the session had finished. It inspired all of us and really showed that manufacturing is alive and present in the minds of young people.”

Bradford Manufacturing Week is a West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce initiative delivered in conjunction with Bradford-based Aspire-igen and sponsored by Barclays Bank, Naylor Wintersgill, Mitton Group, Gordons LLP, the University of Bradford, and Leeds Bradford Airport. From 8-12 October, the Week offered events, work placements, and company visits to inspire, engage and attract students aged 14-18 to the sector.

More than 40 manufacturers offered over 3,000 manufacturing experiences to over half of the district’s secondary schools. During the week, Prime Minister Theresa May backed the initiative, approving of the efforts to enable future generations to see the potential of a career in the manufacturing industry.

Bradford Manufacturing LIVE panellists were Debbie Mellor, managing director of Keighley Laboratories, Matt Darlington, head of grocery multiples at Seabrook Crisps, Nick Garthwaite, managing director of Christeyns UK, Jordan Smith, Christeyns UK apprentice and Geoff Mills and Martin Peel from Epta George Barker. The event was organised and supported by The Works Recruitment and Approach PR.

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