A leading employer in East Yorkshire has joined one of the UK’s top trade unions in backing a pioneering trainee scheme, as a shortage of skills remains a concern in industry.
Upmarket pork producer Cranswick has joined the GMB union in endorsing a traineeship scheme developed by Humberside Engineering Training Association (HETA).
The traineeship scheme by HETA aims to help young people bridge the gap between school and apprenticeships. The scheme also has the backing of Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
Cranswick, which is one the largest employers in Hull, said that HETA’s training model fits well because it gives trainees exposure to the workplace. The upmarket sausages to bacon firm said it would look at adopting it into other areas of its business.
A key feature of the HETA traineeship programme is the level of communication with employers. Attendance, punctuality and discipline are among the attributes that are emphasised.
During the six-month course trainees spend one day a week with an employer and then complete a three-week work placement. Many secure apprenticeships with employers before the end of their programme.
Amy Stubbs, training personnel supervisor at Preston, near Hull, for Cranswick, has a number of HETA apprentices within a workforce of 1,500.
She said: “We wanted to improve communication so we started looking at bringing our apprentices to Cranswick every Friday to meet our team and start building a relationship.
“They need that exposure to the workplace and this model fits incredibly well so we will be discussing it further and looking at adopting it in other areas of our business.”
Kishor Tailor, the LEP’s chief executive, said the scheme gives all of the partners an opportunity to support businesses in the Humber region by improving employability and producing young people who are ready for work.
He said: “We are in a global competition when we are trying to bid for new business in our patch so let’s work together and make it happen.”
GMB last week hosted a breakfast event at HETA’s Hull centre. The union selected HETA’s premises in Hull to showcase the traineeships which it sees as a key tool in helping employers cope with current and future skills shortages.
Craig Stuart, the GMB’s regional educational and health and safety officer, told an audience of employers that a drive to encourage businesses to set up apprenticeships had its roots in a successful bid to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills for money for the Union Learning Fund.
He said: “We wanted to try and convince employers to set up quality apprenticeship schemes.
“We thought it would be quite difficult to get employers to recognise the importance of planning ahead and getting young people into their industries but many said they had been thinking about it for a long time but had not done anything about it.
“They had thought about things like the aging workforce and losing skills and the need for a five to ten year plan for their industry and we were surprised by that, although some are still dragging their heels.
“The HETA model is non-exploitative and is a gold standard that organisations envy.
“Hopefully other organisations will see that and share the same model.
“This is a key partnership that will hopefully secure brighter and better futures for people in this area.”
Changing perceptions of region
One of the biggest challenges East Yorkshire faces is changing the perception of the region, according to Kishor Tailor.
He said: “One of our biggest challenges is about our image in the Humber, to get new employers and businesses here, create more jobs here and get people to come and live here.
“You talk to businesses who have grown up here and they are passionate about the place. They don’t want to go anywhere else.”
However skills remain a key concern for employers.
Mr Tailor added: “Businesses tell us that skills and employability are big issues. If you can’t get people to turn up on time and show motivation they are not going to get the jobs. This collaboration between HETA and the GMB addresses that.”
HETA said it is hoping to get another 70 people into employment over the next six months from its traineeship. The organisation was approached by GMB after they had secured the Union Learning Fund. Iain Elliott, chief executive of HETA, said the union offered an “active audience”. HETA signed a memorandum of understanding with the GMB in 2015 aimed at promoting high quality training with good rates of pay.