Always a highlight of Leeds Manufacturing Festival, this year’s Manufacturing Treks proved as popular as ever, with students from Leeds City College’s School of Engineering visiting three of the city’s manufacturing firms in April and one student even accepting the offer of an apprenticeship just weeks after his visit.
Leeds Welding Company (LWC), glass reinforced plastic moulds manufacturer MPM and engineering firm LBBC all opened their doors to the groups of students and their teachers to give them first-hand experience of a manufacturing workplace and introduce them to the wide range of careers on offer in the sector.
Organised by Ahead Partnership, the treks were a hit with the students, enabling them to see for themselves the manufacturing process from start to finish and to talk to people working in different roles about the skills, responsibilities and qualifications involved.
Ahead Partnership project manager Faron Convey said: “The feedback from the students themselves was tremendous. Many of them were already considering careers in manufacturing or engineering and across the three manufacturing treks they all said they had learnt a lot about manufacturing workplaces, company cultures, and the right steps to take to begin a career in the industry.”
At LWC the students were given an insight into processes such as laser cutting, computer-aided design and manufacturing, and robot welding. The visit so impressed one student that he immediately got in touch to ask if he could be considered for an apprenticeship with the firm. “He had never heard of us before the trip, but seeing what we do first hand gave him the confidence to get in touch and tell us how much he liked the place,” said LWC Managing Director Richard Eaglen. “I’m pleased to say he has now accepted our offer of a job as an apprentice fabricator and welder and we look forward to welcoming him to the LWC team.”
At LBBC they learnt about pressure vessel and autoclave design and took part in a workshop, testing their thinking around which materials might be suitable for different projects. The visit to MPM included a tour of the site and talks and demonstrations from MPM team members Harry Clark and James Marr.
Matt Webley, a teacher at Leeds City College School of Engineering who accompanied the students on the visits, said: “The treks are a brilliant idea and hopefully we can get even more students involved over the coming terms for what has been superb curriculum enrichment.”
Ben Wilson, interim chair of Leeds Manufacturing Festival and director at MPM, said: “It’s essential that young people get to see for themselves what the manufacturing work environment is like and to witness in action some of the many different roles that are on offer."
“The manufacturing treks provide a really valuable experience for the students involved and it’s also fantastic to see how the young people such as Harry and James on our own team step up and take real pride in explaining how a manufacturing business works and talking about their own roles within the organisation.”
He added: “Thanks to LBBC and LWC for taking part in the treks and supporting the festival. They will help young people enormously in choosing the right career path for them and finding out about the reality of manufacturing.”