AN annual initiative designed to inspire young people from across the district into manufacturing careers has been hailed as a huge success – despite it taking on a new look this year due to the pandemic.

More than 4,500 youngsters – from over 30 secondary schools – were involved in events during the third Bradford Manufacturing Weeks initiative.

The venture combined online events with practical, in-school challenges.

Steeton-based Acorn Stairlifts produced a special video which featured in a virtual launch event.

The footage gave a behind-the-scenes look at the company’s factory and introduced some key members of the 350-strong workforce.

The Manufacturing Weeks initiative – which is spearheaded by West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce – brings together manufacturers, schools and young people themselves.

Normally activities would include factory tours, work placements, seminars, exhibitions and learning events at a number of the participating companies’ premises.

But this year, due to the restrictions in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the ten-day venture took on a very different appearance.

There were more than 30 online, live sessions and – new for this year – a competition to create a fun and practical hygiene station for use in schools or colleges.

Other activities included virtual factory tours, Zoom ‘meet the manufacturer’ sessions and online presentations.

In an evaluation survey, all the schools that took part said their students had benefitted.

Nick Garthwaite, chairman of West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce and founder of Bradford Manufacturing Weeks, said: “Feedback from the schools has been absolutely superb, with all involved wanting to take part again next year and many stating the experiences have literally changed the perspectives and opened the minds of their pupils – which is exactly what we set out to do.”

The scheme is delivered in partnership with school and career specialists Aspire-igen and with sponsorship and support from Barclays, E3 Recruitment, Naylor Wintersgill, Gordons LLP and Bradford Council.

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