A new EAL qualification that has helped over a thousand people land jobs in the automotive industry is now benefitting hundreds more in other sectors.

So far, 278 unemployed people have landed jobs as assembly workers and operators at outdoor power tools manufacturer Husqvarna, at the company’s Newton Aycliffe factory, after they have completed the level 2 EAL qualification at Hartlepool College of Further Education.

The programme has been designed to prepare those with little or no manufacturing experience for a production role. It has been repurposed from the automotive industry, where it has already helped over 1,100 people into employment with Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK and its supply chain partners. And now Hartlepool College in partnership with clothing company Barbour is also looking to adapt the programme to train machinists to produce their range of products.

Geoff Lindridge, lecturer at Hartlepool College of Further Education, is leading on the delivery of the qualification – called ’Preparation for Working in the Engineering Manufacturing Industry’ – for both Husqvarna and Barbour. He worked with EAL, the specialist awarding organisation for industry qualifications, to ensure the programme met the needs of the employers.

He said: “Our learners are referred by Jobcentre Plus or Work Programme contractors and come from a broad range of backgrounds. They are, aged between 18 and 60 – many with no previous experience of working in the manufacturing industry. We teach them essential skills they need to get a job in the manufacturing industry: health and safety, assembly and inspection and lean manufacturing. The National Careers Service also come to the College to provide interview training and CV preparation. Once the students have gained their level 2 qualification, we offer course and employment advice and invite them to progress further in their learning.

“We have been working with EAL to successfully adapt the qualification from the automotive industry, where we had heard it helped Nissan to find and prepare the skilled workforce it needed. We wanted to show the qualification has value in other areas as well, helping people gain employment in various sectors.”

Tony Day, change agent at Husqvarna, is responsible for lean manufacturing improvements at the factory. He said: “The EAL qualification is about preparing new workers that haven’t worked with us before. After they’ve finished, they learn much faster on the assembly line, know exactly what is required of them and have the skills to adapt to lean manufacturing practices.

“We have had a lot of input in the design and development of the qualification – a large proportion of the content has been adapted from our Manufacturing and HR departments. We are now exploring the option of including our induction programme as well, so new employees can pass through this additional training before they come into the factory.”

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