Workers at BMW’s Hams Hall engine plant have been praised for gaining new manufacturing qualifications.
Eighteen people are employed by Blue Arrow and work as part of a skills partnership between the companies and Sutton Coldfield College.
The college and companies teamed up to offer Blue Arrow employees training and the chance to improve manufacturing skills.
The efforts of workers in gaining the NVQ level 2 in Performing Manufacturing Operations was recognised during a visit to the plant by the chairman of the Learning and Skills Council, Mike Beasley.
He said: “The importance of vocational qualifications in addressing skills shortages cannot be overstated and I am delighted to recognise the success of Blue Arrow’s employees.
“They have every right to be proud of their achievements. This initiative to train flexible workers reflects well on the employers and on the region’s determination to create the highly skilled workforce it needs to compete successfully on the world stage.”
The qualifications are the first step in a longer-term partnership designed to see a further 41 Blue Arrow associates complete the training course next month, with plans to widen this further by December 2008.
Blue Arrow is a market leader in the supply of a flexible workforce to the automotive industry in the UK with key clients including BMW, Toyota and LDV vans.
Managing director Mark Manaton said: “Today, businesses are looking for increased flexibility in order to respond quicker to workload fluctuations.
“As a recruitment supplier we are spearheading a new initiative to improve the skills of flexible workers in order to provide a highly productive, adaptable and trained workforce for our clients.”
“The achievements of the first wave of our employees demonstrate that career development, excellent wages and continuity of employment are not the sole preserve of permanent workers,” he added.
Hams Hall managing director Robert Bolam said Blue Arrow’s skilled employees complemented BMW’s own and played important role in ensuring the firm was able to respond flexibly and swiftly to changes in production requirements.
“This partnership is helping to ensure that everyone who works at Hams Hall is equipped to produce top-quality engines as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible, to satisfy the exacting requirements of our customers,” he said. The NVQ2 training programme, which takes place in the workplace, covers lean manufacturing principles, health & safety and quality in manufacturing.
In addition, workshops in literacy and numeracy are held to support each individual’s training needs.
The programme will be reviewed in September 2008; new courses may be introduced and there are plans to expand the project in 2009.
One Blue Arrow worker, 37-year-old Lakhbir Bains, said: “The training course was very interesting and helpful. Having passed the course I now feel more confident about my future career because NVQs are a nationally recognised award.
“The skills and knowledge I have gained will definitely help me to succeed in future and give me an advantage when applying for jobs.”