Elevating industry

Posted on 14 Apr 2011 by The Manufacturer

Bombardier has launched a new learning centre to support the professional development of employees and raise expectations around manufacturing opportunities

Transport engineering and manufacturing firm Bombardier welcomed Frances O’Grady, the Deputy General Secretary of the national Trade Union Congress (TUC) to its site in Derby yesterday to officially open the company’s new Learning Centre.
The on-site centre will enable employees to gain access to myriad courses either to complement their workplace roles, or to build entirely new skills.

Available course will range across business degrees, foreign language qualifications, IT skills and advanced vocational training. On inaugurating the new centre O’Grady commented: “Manufacturing is the key to Britain’s economic recovery and we need more workplace learning centres to boost staff skills. Union learning reps can play a vital role in encouraging those who may have missed out at school to take up courses that will be of benefit to them and business. I am delighted to see that Bombardier is working with unions to invest in the skills and talent of the workforce.”

The new Derby-based Learning Centre will expand Bombardier’s existing Learning Centre portfolio. It’s first centre opened in 2005 under the aegis of the Confederation of Ship Building and Engineering Unions (CSEU) with the aim of improving core manufacturing skills but enthusiastic uptake of course has pushed the company to support wider learning and development opportunities.

Derby Adult Learning Service and Stephenson College support the delivery of many of the courses at Bombardier’s centre however the expanded centre will also support the delivery of the Business Improvements Techniques Foundation Degree Programme, supported jointly with West Nottinghamshire College and Derby University.

Additionally, West Nottinghamshire College is working with Bombardier on a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) programme for Production staff.
Over the last 5 year almost 200 managers and team leaders have had the opportunity to attend coaching and mentoring workshops with the potential to gain qualifications at degree level and beyond while Bombardier’s 51 modern apprentices also use the site as a study centre for the classroom elements of their qualifications. Since the Learning Centre opened its doors, 942 Bombardier employees have attended programmes at this Centre.

Colin Walton, chairman Bombardier Transportation UK explained why investing in the Learning Centre was so important to Bomardier: “During these challenging times, it is especially important for companies to retain a highly motivated and skilled workforce and to ensure that the people and skills are in place for the future. I would like to thank the CSEU for its initial funding to back this excellent initiative and our unions for their continued support.”

The model being used by Bombardier is a great example to industry of the level of seriousness that needs to be given to skills development in manufacturing workforces. It reflects a need to raise the social standing of manufacturing employees and echoes the sentiments of David Fox, CEO of successful electrical systems manufacturer Power Panels. In a recent meeting with TM Mr Fox spoke passionately of the need to develop and give authority to the manufacturing workforce in the UK from operator level upwards. He commented “Manufacturing is no longer content to scoop up the dregs nor to be perceived as such.”

The broad range of skills being supported by Bombardier’s programme will help to elevate the manufacturing industry as a career destination for the aspirational and talented.