Chairman at James Cropper
Mark Cropper joined the board at James Cropper in 2006 as the sixth generation of the Cropper family to be involved in the business.
He became deputy chairman in 2008 and chairman in July 2010.
How has your company engaged with young people and the community to improve the image of manufacturing?
One example is the company’s involvement with CREST which is Britain’s largest national award scheme for project work in the in the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) for 11-19yr olds.
People across our business engage students from local secondary schools to get involved and set up projects in the business that will directly impact their future learning and development as well as their image of manufacturing.
What have you personally contributed to help improve youth engagement with manufacturing?
I recently spoke at the 6th form awards for one of the leading local schools and work closely with my team in the CREST award scheme as well as our apprenticeship programs.
I am personally involved in the apprenticeship programme that is bringing new ideas and talent into the business and I consider this as a great way of introducing and nurturing young talent.
We have recruited more than a dozen engineering and manufacturing apprentices in the last five years, investing in their career development through a blend of formal tuition at college and on-the-job training.
The company is looking to recruit more apprentices during the coming year and beyond, and is always on the look-out for gifted individuals.
What more needs to be done to increase interest in manufacturing and engineering?
I believe the government has restrictions on apprenticeship funding support being tied into higher education programmes. They need to be much more flexible and let employers develop specific company level education and training.
I am committed to employing young people as my experience is that the enthusiasm and openness to new ideas, not to say the energy, outweighs the inexperience. We should be giving more responsibility to younger people as we have in some cases.
More could also be done on the PR front to show how fulfilling a career in engineering or manufacturing could be. This could involve making a film about young people in these sectors.