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Employers team up to boost skills


A new partnership has seen an employment agency team up with an employer and a college to offer vocational qualifications.

Blue Arrow Managed Services’ associates work as flexible employees at BMW’s Hams Hall engine plant in the Midlands. The two companies have teamed up with Sutton Coldfield College to offer new manufacturing qualifications to boost skills.

West Midlands Learning and Skills Council chairman Mike Beasley, who awarded the first wave of Blue Arrow employees their course certificates, said: “The importance of vocational qualifications in addressing skills shortages at local and national level 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 the region’s determination to create the highly skilled workforce it needs to compete successfully on the world stage.”

To date, 18 Blue Arrow associates have gained national vocational qualifications at NVQ level 2 in Performing Manufacturing Operations, following the government’s recent initiative to encourage more people to undergo vocational training.

This is only the first step in a longer-term partnership as a further 41 Blue Arrow associates are set to complete the course next month.

Mark Manaton, managing director, Blue Arrow Managed Services, 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.

“As an employer we are pleased to be equipping our flexible employees with skills for life through nationally recognised qualifications. 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.”

Robert Bolam, managing director at BMW Plant Hams Hall, said: “Blue Arrow’s skilled associates complement our own and play an important role in ensuring we are 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.”

The NVQ2 training programme, which takes place in the workplace, covers lean manufacturing principles, health and 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.


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