A group of North East firms have pledged their support for a trailblazing training academy to tackle skills shortages in the manufacturing and engineering sectors.

Fifteen firms have signed up to be part of the Ford Engineering Academy, a pioneering training programme informed by industry and developed with Gateshead College to help the region’s manufacturing and engineering sectors build sustainable workforces for the future.

All fifteen companies will provide placements for students who secure places with the Ford Engineering Academy – and some will offer apprenticeships for talented individuals who stand out. The Academy, established in 2017, gives young people the attitude, skills and knowledge they need to start their career, with many moving on to an apprenticeship.

One of Europe’s leading food packaging suppliers, Graphic Packaging International is one of the fifteen businesses to come on board. The company is taking on two students, Jamie Brown and Josh Prendagast, on an eight-week work placement and has guaranteed to offer them an apprenticeship at the end of it.

Julie Nicholson, HR manager at Graphic Packaging, said: “There are severe skills shortages in the manufacturing and engineering sectors and it’s important for the future of our business that we do something to tackle the problem. We’re invested in supporting young people and feel the programme is an ideal way to recruit and bring fresh talent and skills to our team.”

The Ford Engineering Academy is recruiting now for a September 2019 start. Any young people inspired to launch a career in engineering can register for an information event on Tuesday, March 19 (6.00pm) at Gateshead College’s Skills Academy for Automotive and Engineering in Team Valley. The programme is an ideal opportunity for school leavers who want to pursue a career in engineering or manufacturing.

Chris Ford, managing director of Ford Engineering, will join other industry professionals and the college’s expert teaching staff to answer questions about the course and take students on a tour of the academy’s engineering facilities.

Chris Ford said: “Our Ford Engineering Academy has attracted the interest from some amazing businesses that all realise the really significant input they can have in shaping their future workforce.

“We have had some amazing young people through the academy already who have gone on to secure apprenticeships. Having more businesses offer work placement opportunities is only going to add to the experience for our learners.”

Students spend a year at Gateshead College’s Skills Academy for Automotive and Engineering, mastering the core skills and competencies needed for key engineering tasks such as preparing and using milling machines and lathes and producing mechanical engineering drawings using computer aided design (CAD) technology. They also study English and maths and learn about health and safety and work preparation methods.

The fifteen companies are Adient, Baker Hughes, Beamish, Cummins, Dyer Engineering, EDM Zone, Ford Engineering, Graphic Packaging International, Kavli, Liebherr, National Oilwell Varco, Towne Lifting and Testing, Tyneside Safety Glass, Tyneside Standards and Unipres.

Anyone who would like to reserve a place at the Ford Engineering Academy open event should visit http://www.gateshead.ac.uk/events/ford-engineering-academy/. Can’t make it? A second event will be held at the same venue on Tuesday, May 7.