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Unipres marks 30th anniversary with new training academy
Unipres UK has launched a new training academy at its Washington plant, as the automotive parts maker celebrates its 30th anniversary.
After outgrowing its former home at Washington Business Centre, the new state-of-the-art academy at its Sunderland plant boasts VR crane simulation and welding equipment, specially-created IT-equipped classrooms and direct access to the plant’s manufacturing equipment and in-house expertise. The academy will help upskill employees and provide a classroom for the factory’s apprentices.
Stuart Sanderson, Unipres HR manager, one of 23 current employees who have been with the company since it opened in 1989, said: “For three decades, Unipres has been part of the fabric of North East business, creating skilled jobs and employment opportunities for local people.
“And what better way to mark the milestone of our anniversary at Washington than by making a commitment that will be of huge benefit to our future.
“The Unipres Training Academy, as an employer provider, has delivered training to over 50 enthusiastic young apprentices as well as 80 existing staff since it opened just over two years ago. It has helped attract more young females to engineering, opened vital links with local schools and has become a valuable asset in our constant effort to upskill employees.”
Unipres UK opened the Washington plant in 1989, with around 50 employees originally working from pre-fabricated buildings while the factory was under construction. The global parts giant, which supplies pressed steel parts to a host of global vehicle manufacturers, now employs over 1,220 – with 865 permanent staff at Washington, and continues to recruit apprentices to ensure it remains fit for the future.
Maureen Askew, senior controller at the Unipres Training Academy, added: “I’ve been lucky enough to work with some real superstars through the academy and there’s nothing like seeing them adapt well to new roles around the plant.
“The move into the plant has definitely come at the right time. As a training provider to our new production staff, we have grown from training six people every six weeks to 20 people every three weeks. We were also training six new production apprentices a year, but that quickly jumped to 15, as well as upskilling existing staff, so suddenly the old base felt a little cramped.
“The new academy provides us with growing space and the unique ability to immediately access in-house specialist expertise.”
Unipres continues to be a dedicated and vocal advocate for apprenticeships, and is one of the few companies to have used its entire apprenticeship levy.