A production line of manufacturing talent has been set in motion by one of the North East’s largest automotive experts.
The Unipres Training Academy was opened by Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, at a ceremony attended by business and civic leaders as well as a host of former and current company apprentices.
At its peak, the new facility will turn out more than 100 apprentices a year, and the investment complements the specialist and short courses offered to employees which will also be available to other automotive suppliers.
The firm has invested £500,000 in the new academy, based at Washington Business Centre, close to Unipres’s Sunderland factory.
Mrs Hodgson said: “Today is a fantastic step for the North East and for Sunderland. It’s a credit to Unipres, and to the skills of the team at the company, who have created this fantastic Academy, which I am sure will be hugely successful.
“I am delighted that Unipres is working with Sunderland College. The FE sector has faced incredible scrutiny from Government over the last year or so, but its role in bringing through talented young people ready to take the reins from the leaders of today, cannot be underestimated.
“It is heartening to see a local business so committed to this city also committed to localism in its work with the education sector, and I am sure it will be a strong partnership. We have some tremendous assets in the city, and we must encourage them to work together to deliver bigger, better things for the next generation.”
Unipres plant director John Cruddace said: “This academy is the culmination of a vision combined with a great deal of hard work and investment. We have the best apprentices, so it is only fitting that they have the best facility to learn the ropes.
"The machines and equipment we have at the Unipres Training Academy is exactly the same as we use in the main plant, so the transition from training to the working environment is as smooth as possible. This really is a fantastic new facility.”
The launch was made as part of National Apprenticeship Week, during which Unipres organised and hosted a string of events, including working with Northern Saints Church of England Primary School on a project to design and build mini cars.