Automotive firm drives forward with national apprenticeship scheme

Photo (from left to right): Jennifer Jach of Lear, Paul Lockwood of Gateshead College, apprentice Natalia Walas and apprentice Jordan Barrowman

 

One of the world’s leading automotive seating suppliers has teamed up with Gateshead College to kick-start the roll-out of a UK-wide apprenticeship programme.

Lear Corporation has joined forces with the college and its strategic partner, Cidori, to develop a skills programme designed to help the Detroit-headquartered firm improve efficiency, boost productivity and increase employee engagement.

Initial training has already taken place at Lear’s Coventry operation, which employs more than 1,100 staff, and saw more than 100 apprentices work on a variety of projects designed to improve the smooth running of production lines, make the workplace safer, boost morale and reduce unnecessary waste and costs.

On the back of this success, the programme is now being rolled out to Lear operatives and line managers at other sites across the country. Its UK operation is part of a global company that employs 165,000 staff in 39 countries and supplies its seating systems to major car manufacturers worldwide.

Adam Ford, continuous improvements manager at Lear, said: “We wanted to find ways of encouraging our operatives to come forward with suggestions on how to improve not only themselves but the business. That’s why we’ve developed this training programme with Gateshead College and Cidori, to give apprentices the skill set as well as the opportunity to make improvements that will have a significant impact. In the initial phase, we’ve seen a rise in productivity, a reduction in scrap and an increase in staff engagement.

“Already we can see the value in this; we’ve become leaner and more efficient by reducing downtime and improving quality on the production lines. That’s why we’ve decide to roll out the programme nationally with assistance from Gateshead College and Cidori, which have extensive experience in delivering national skills programmes. We can grow and develop our UK business while giving our staff the confidence and skills to progress in their careers.”

The training equips apprentices with the skills, knowledge and understanding to meet the challenges and changing needs of a modern production environment. It also allows them to work towards a Business Improvement Techniques qualification.

Gateshead College has a 60-year track record of developing vocational learning programmes that help firms across the country build skilled workforces for the future.

Ivan Jepson, director of business development at Gateshead College, said: “We’re thrilled to be working with Lear on the roll-out of their national apprenticeship programme, which will see them cement their position as a market leader in the automotive supply chain.

“We already have expertise in delivering a number of national training programmes with employers and work closely with them to ensure the training meets their evolving business needs. This gives companies a better chance of hitting their growth targets by becoming more productive and competitive.”