Manufacturing initiative provides “huge value” for local pupils

A Bradford careers advisor says the district’s annual Bradford Manufacturing Weeks initiative provides “huge value” in creating pathways towards employment.

Speaking as a new report shows the West & North Yorkshire Chamber careers initiative has reached more than 17,000 Bradford students since its inception in 2018, Bradford Forster Academy careers advisor Angela Brackley, said that the employer-based links the school has formed through Bradford Manufacturing Weeks, is making a real difference to students.

From 3-14 October this year, almost 2,000 Bradford students aged 14 to 18 interacted with Bradford manufacturers through site tours, ‘meet the manufacturer’ and ‘meet the apprentice’ sessions, skills and attitude workshops, live demonstrations and practical events.

During the fortnight, Bradford Forster Academy student, Sarim Akhtar (13), joined his fellow students for a trip to Bradford’s air management experts Mansfield Pollard. The company, which specialises in the design and manufacture of industrial air handling units, acoustic control products and data centre cooling solutions, created a practical workshop showing how to make a sound proof container before taking the students on a site tour.

Sarim said: “I thought manufacturing was just about building metal things but we were shown how they make the systems that heat up and cool down places like Ikea! And we got the chance to have a go at making our own sound proofing box.

“It was so much fun and now I’ve visited, I’d really love to do my work experience there and find out more about being an apprentice. It’s so different to what I thought.”

Bradford Manufacturing Weeks is sponsored by Bradford Council, E3 Recruitment, the University of Bradford, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, Naylor Wintersgill and LCF Law. The 2023 report was compiled by school and career specialists The Opportunity Centre, which has co-ordinated the school and manufacturer activities since 2018.

It states that alongside delivering activities and resources for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) pupils, 965 Bradford students attended in-school talks, 332 took part in panel events and 305 students got involved in a UN sustainability goal-focussed competition. The report concluded that 100% of participating schools felt pupils benefited from being involved.

Bradford Forster Academy careers advisor Angela Brackley said: “Our school has been involved with Bradford Manufacturing Weeks since it began and we get immense value from the pathways it creates towards making the right career choices for our young people.

“During the fortnight, we invite local manufacturers in to meet our students, who then decide whether they’d like to visit. After meeting with and visiting Mansfield Pollard, Sarim is now interested in doing his Year 10 work experience there and finding out more about apprenticeships.”

She added: “Bradford is known as a city which is involved in manufacturing and students can walk past buildings every day with no knowledge of what goes on inside. Bradford Manufacturing Weeks is helping to change that and I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to our school’s annual career activities and the perspective of our students.”

Lou Frankland, Mansfield Pollard CEO and a participant in the 2022 Bradford Manufacturing Weeks’ Women in Manufacturing Panel event, said the company’s sole aim during the initiative is to inspire as many local students as possible.

She said: “It’s an opportunity to engage with the engineers of the future and showcase manufacturing as a vibrant and modern sector offering unlimited potential to develop and progress. Building and nurturing links with local schools and students provides the perfect platform to develop mutually beneficial relationships and further boost the reputation of Bradford as the manufacturing capital of the UK.”

Chair and founder of Bradford Manufacturing Weeks Nick Garthwaite added: “Once again the West & North Yorkshire Chamber, its manufacturing partners and sponsors have come together to deliver a two-week careers initiative which is proving invaluable to local schools and to supporting the pipeline of talent for our district’s employers.

“As our thoughts now turn towards planning the 2023 initiative, we would love to hear from even more local manufacturers about what they can offer to help us create the events, the pathways and the excitement which will inspire the next generation of Bradford manufacturers.”

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