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Nissan contract accelerates growth

(left to right) David Myers, production supervisor at Faltec Europe; Iain Nixon, executive director commercial activity at Sunderland College; Paul Turbitt, operations manager at Faltec Europe; Takayuki Furuuchi, managing director of Faltec Europe; and Bill Milestone, motor vehicle lecturer at Sunderland College, with Faltec Europe’s new apprentices Kurtis Hardingham and Lewis Halliman

A major automotive supplier is gearing up its workforce for expansion after winning a key contract with car giant Nissan.

Faltec Europe has been chosen by the Sunderland-based plant to supply body and trim parts for its new electric Leaf which will begin production by the end of the year.

Boldon-based Faltec Europe – which already supplies parts for Nissan’s Juke, Qashqai and Infiniti models –  has joined forces with Sunderland College and Sora Group to recruit and train a team of apprentices who will be working on the new contract.

This partnership has resulted in 15 young people securing paint and polish production apprenticeships on Faltec Europe’s new production line, after completing a bespoke training course delivered by Sunderland College.

Glen Sidebotham, senior manager sales at Faltec Europe, said: “We are greatly appreciative of the joint activity between Sunderland College and Sora Group in relation to the training and recruitment of a number of apprentices for our business.

“These apprentices will be important to our success in the launch of production for the new Nissan Leaf in December.  Both parties were able to create a bespoke training plan that demonstrated a clear understanding of the needs of our business. The level of training and apprentices supplied to us have been of a high calibre and we are very pleased to have welcomed our new recruits into the business.”

The apprentices underwent a rigorous screening programme before beginning a specialist paint application course which was delivered at Sunderland College’s multi-million pound advanced manufacturing and engineering centre at City Campus.

Designed to replicate the company’s working environment, apprentices have been trained on a purpose-built production line with Faltec Europe’s products to ensure they are fully prepared for their new roles.

Iain Nixon, Sunderland College’s executive director for commercial activity, said: “We have worked very closely with Faltec Europe to devise a programme that is shaped entirely around the requirements of the business, and this holistic approach has been met with an extremely positive response.

“The apprentices have learnt in a practical setting that mimics Faltec Europe’s working environment, and every stage of the training has been modelled on the procedures and high standards set by the company. We are providing a level of specialism training and support that is unrivalled and is designed to equip the apprentices with the skills and knowledge they need to hit the ground running in their new roles.”

Lee Childs, engineering training manager at Sora Group, added: “The programme we have developed has been tailored to meet the needs of the employer, and we have given those trained the necessary skills to work in a high-quality and fast-paced automotive production environment. Faltec Europe will continue to invest in the new recruits, progressing their skills through the manufacturing operations apprenticeships and we’re confident they will become part of the company’s highly prized workforce.”

Sunderland College has strong links with the advanced manufacturing sector and in recent years has significantly expanded its client portfolio, working alongside Calsonic Kansei, ZF, Unipres and Komatsu among others.

Ellen Thinnesen, principal and chief executive of Sunderland College, added: “Faltec Europe is a company with real vision and is playing a considerable role in driving forward the expansion of the automotive industry in the North East. By investing heavily in its workforce and facilities, Faltec Europe is placing a great deal of importance on staff development and training, which is a key element in maintaining a prosperous and thriving economy.

“We are working with a number of businesses in this sector – which has been affected by a skills shortage in the past – to plot out a strategic approach to shrinking this skills gap, and we have already developed a number of high quality training programmes to address the needs of the industry. With this in mind, we’re very pleased that the college and Sora Group are partnering with Faltec Europe to deliver this specialised programme which has the needs of the industry at its very heart. This success is a shining example of partnership working, and reflects the close relationship we have with our strategic partner Sora Group, a company which shares our commitment to supporting employers and enhancing the skills of the region’s workforce.”

For more information about the large range of apprenticeships on offer through the college, click here.

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