Apprenticeship commitment

Cornwall Group will create 10 new apprenticeships before the end of this year as part of its continuing commitment to support the upskilling of workers in the glass industry.

The company, which operates across three divisions – Cornwall Glass Manufacturing, Cornwall Glass and Glazing, and its glass merchanting business Mackenzie Glass – has an over-arching commitment to ensure that, at any given time, 10% of its workforce is made up from apprentices or former apprentices.

Mark Mitchell, chairman of Cornwall Group, said that Covid impacted its recruitment and training process last year but that the group would be back on target by the end of this year.

“It’s very important that we continue to attract young people into the glass industry and develop the right skills set,” he said. “We have a long-standing apprenticeships programme; in fact two of our current managing directors joined as factory floor apprentices, so the opportunities for people who are willing to work hard are pretty much limitless.

“Covid did impact our ability to bring new people in last year but we are committed to catching up on our recruitment programme in the months ahead and will aligned to target by the year’s end.”

The Building Our Skills Campaign continues to promote apprenticeships within the glass and glazing industries. However, recruitment remains a challenge for businesses at large, with nationally only 40,000 young people starting apprenticeships last year – half the figure for 2019 – because of the impact of Covid.

“One of the things that is going to be different this time around is that two of our apprenticeships will be recruited to the night shift at our Plymouth manufacturing site, with the training providers working around shift patterns to deliver training,” Mark said.

Cornwall Glass Manufacturing Plymouth is specifically geared towards the manufacture of over-sized IGUs with its Bystronic line capable of handling units of up to 2.7m x 5m.

Cornwall Glass Manufacturing announced plans to further expand its operational capability in March with a pledge to commit £6 million to its Highbridge operation. This will include the ability to manufacture over-sized units at a second facility, heat soak capability and specialist glass processing operations, also creating 30 new jobs.

“We are very much looking towards the future with a major investment programme planned for our Highbridge site,” Mark said. “That has to be about much more than machinery and equipment. It’s about people. The apprentices who we bring into our business today have the potential to be its leaders of tomorrow.”