AN engineering firm is gearing up for the future – with a training academy aiming to build up the skills of its next generation of workers.
Lockwood-based David Brown Gear Systems – which next year celebrates 150 years of the David Brown name – has put more than 250 students through its gear academy since March as part of efforts to instil a passion for engineering and manufacturing.
Some 90% of the students are David Brown employees – with the remaining 10% drawn from the firm’s suppliers and customers and organisations with which the company collaborates, including Huddersfield University.
Courses are also being delivered to workers at David Brown plants in Australia, China, India, France and Thailand via CDs and lecture notes while courses at the firm’s Park Works headquarters have been attended by employees from Brazil, Mexico, Russia, the Czech Republic and the USA.
A key feature at the academy is a foundation course – a series of three lectures that cover the fundamentals of gears, their performance and manufacture – which can be attended by all employees, regardless of their role in the company.
The academy is run by technology director Graham Penning and human resources director Steve Botterill, who are expanding the curriculum to cover more than 80 modules that will encompass all the core skills required by the company.
Chief executive Geoff Charlson is also taking an active and personal interest in the academy, which is regarded as vital to ensuring the company remains at the forefront of the industry.
Development of the academy follows the takeover of David Brown by Scottish-based Clyde Blowers from US giant Textron last November.
Mr Penning said: “All the companies in David Brown around the world were asked to identify the core skills we will need to maintain going into the future.
“David Brown used to employ 3,000 people at this site alone. While we still employ 1,100 around the world and 400 on this site, imagine the knowledge and expertise that has been lost over the years.
“The academy means we can teach our apprentices, our strategic partners such as suppliers as well as employees from other parts of the business – and add to our fund of knowledge.”
Mr Penning said: “Clyde Blowers has supported the development of the academy because it shares our ambitions to develop and retain a workforce with the skills to enable our business to flourish.
“It has been a good start, but it is up to us to keep the momentum going and ensure it is not just a flash in the pan.”