Investment in skills

A glass processing specialist with more than 80 years’ history has outlined ambitious growth plans that will be supported by a skills programme with Gateshead College.

Tyneside Safety Glass – which supplies toughened, laminated, heated and bullet-resistant glass to the defence, motor sports, passenger transport and construction industries – has increased annual turnover to £14 million on the back of recent contract wins, notably with high-profile bus and coach firms.

The Team Valley-based firm recently invested £2 million in new equipment to cement its position in the niche high-value glass products market – a move that required an influx of new skills. With assistance from Gateshead College, the company started to develop new talent through apprenticeships.

Together the two organisations created a performing manufacturing operations (PMO) skills programme, which allows apprentices to learn about manufacturing preparation, processes and techniques, quality control and workplace health and safety. They also acquire transferrable skills in effective communication, teamwork and industrial environmental practices.

Chris Hannant, managing director of Tyneside Safety Glass, said: “The skills drive is part of our wider aim to introduce new young employees into our business who will help to support our on-going growth plans in key market sectors. After investing in various training programmes during the last eight years, this is the first time we’ve worked with Gateshead College and we’re impressed with both their keenness to understand our business and their overall approach to workforce development.”

Nineteen-year-old James Fiddes completed an employability course at Gateshead College before taking up his current position at Tyneside Safety Glass.

“I’m looking forward to progressing my career at such an established company,” he said. “My employability course was ideal preparation for my apprenticeship and I’m grateful for the ongoing help I’m getting from the college and Tyneside Safety Glass.”