Ford Engineering Group donates award winnings to local school to boost future talent pipeline

Harton Academy, based in South Shields, has been awarded £2,000 to support its Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) club activities, thanks to the North East Automotive Alliance’s (NEAA) annual awards and one of its winning companies, Ford Engineering Group.

The NEAA Awards evening honoured the brightest talent and outstanding achievements of companies and future leaders shaping the North East automotive industry. Initiated in 2018 to support future generations within the sector, build sector attractiveness and to recognise talent, the awards have donated over £60,000 to date towards future talent within the industry. Company winners received a cheque to donate to a STEM engagement programme or local school in support of an automotive or STEM related project, which helps to promote and drive forward careers within the automotive sector.

Ford Engineering Group, a global, high precision machining and precision component manufacturer for high-tech industries including aerospace, automotive, defence, off-road and rail, was awarded the SME Company of the Year title at the NEAA Awards 2023, which took place in March.

In June the business announced that it was investing over £1 million in advanced manufacturing equipment and strengthening its team with senior skills as the business continues to grow. It was acquired in April 2023 by SPIROL, a family-owned, manufacturing group, headquartered in the USA.

South Shield-based Ford Engineering Group, which has been in business for 113 years, has a strong history of training and apprenticeships and even set up its own academy in 2013, pioneered by the late Geoff Ford MBE, offering engineering Level 1 and Level 2. The aim of the academy is to give young people the skills, knowledge and experience they need to start a successful engineering career and find an apprenticeship.

Iain Oates, Director at Ford Engineering Group said: “We are really keen to maintain engagement with local schools to boost interest in the engineering and manufacturing sector, with a view to attracting new talent in the years to come. The NEAA’s initiative for award winning companies to give back into schools is fantastic. It’s a great way of helping to raise the profile of the sector amongst younger people and allowing companies like Ford Engineering to talk to pupils about the career opportunities and different routes in to engineering that are available to them.”

Ford Engineering Group took away a cheque for £2,000 which it chose to donate to local school, Harton Academy. The school’s STEM club, which currently struggles to secure funding and resources, is now able to develop a more comprehensive schedule of activities for its students as a result of the funding. Ford’s operations manager, Karl Dambers and quality, health, safety & environmental manager, Nathan McCully, presented the cheque to the school’s STEM club and gave an overview of Ford Engineering Group and their individual career paths.

Kirstine Walker, Deputy Headteacher at Harton Academy said: “Receiving this donation will make a big difference to the school’s STEM club, enabling us to acquire more resources and coordinate external visits. A big thank you to Ford Engineering Group for choosing our school. I am keen to maintain engagement with Ford, the NEAA and the wider automotive sector to give our students a greater insight into the job opportunities that exist here on our doorstep.”

The NEAA, an industry-led cluster group, established to support the economic, sustainable growth and competitiveness of the automotive sector in the region, works with businesses of all sizes who can support the automotive supply chain.

Paul Butler, CEO, of the NEAA, said: “We are so pleased that, thanks to the generosity of NEAA members and sponsors of our awards, we are, yet again, in a position to support local schools.

“Harton Academy is a great example of a school supporting its pupils with various academic and vocational routes in to industry and we are so pleased to be able to support its STEM initiatives. STEM-related learning is important in schools and at home, as it provides an opportunity for children to learn about topics and disciplines that will serve them well in later life, particularly for in-demand new job roles. I fully expect this to be the start of further engagement with Harton Academy and their students.”