Lear Corporation has joined forces with the college and its strategic partner, Cidori, to develop a skills programme designed to help the Detroit-headquartered firm improve efficiency and increase employee engagement.
Initial training has already taken place at Lear’s Coventry operation, which employs more than 1,100 staff, and saw more than 100 apprentices work on projects designed to improve the running of production lines and make the general workplace safer.
On the back of this success, the programme is now being rolled out to Lear operatives and line managers at other sites across the country.
Its UK operation is part of a global company that employs 165,000 staff in 39 countries and supplies its seating systems to major car manufacturers worldwide.
Adam Ford, continuous improvements manager at Lear, said: “We wanted to find ways of encouraging our operatives to come forward with suggestions on how to improve not only themselves but the business.
“That’s why we’ve developed this training programme with Gateshead College and Cidori, to give apprentices the skill set as well as the opportunity to make improvements that will have a significant impact.
“In the initial phase, we’ve seen a rise in productivity, a reduction in scrap and an increase in staff engagement. Already we can see the value in this; we’ve become leaner and more efficient by reducing downtime and improving quality on the production lines.
"We can grow and develop our UK business while giving our staff the confidence and skills to progress in their careers.”
The training equips apprentices with the skills, knowledge and understanding to meet the challenges and changing needs of a modern production environment. It also allows them to work towards a business improvement techniques qualification.
Ivan Jepson, director of business development at Gateshead College, concluded: “We’re thrilled to be working with Lear on the national apprenticeship programme.
“We already have expertise in delivering a number of national training programmes with employers and work closely with them to ensure the training meets their evolving business needs.
“This gives companies a better chance of hitting their growth targets by becoming more productive and competitive.”