Child Action North West, Langho

FOSTER carers are offered the chance to take up training and development opportunities to promote a respected service at Blackburn-based charity Child Action Northwest.

The company, which has its headquarters in Whalley Road, Langho, employs 136 full and part-time staff, all of whom work with learning and development manager Marion Thompson on a core training programme to make sure everybody with the organisation has the necessary skills to carry out their work. More than 80 per cent of the service carers at Child Action Northwest have a level three diploma award in working with young people, which the charity’s learning and development team provides with the support of Blackburn College.

In the past 12 months, eight foster carers have started the QCF level three diploma for the children and young people’s workforce and two workers have taken the level two and level three QCF business administration apprenticeship.

A further 11 staff have strengthened their skills thanks to the level two NCFE working in the children and young people’s workforce.

As an accredited NCFE, the centre is qualified to provide courses independently of colleges. One such course, the management QCF five level, was completed by four Child Action Northwest managers in April this year.

The centre’s level two QCF ITQ apprenticeship computer courses, which are being completed by eight staff, started in October 2011, allowing them to also develop other key skills including literacy and numeracy.

Herbert Parkinson, Darwen

THE development of its staff is high on the list of priorities at Darwen-based manufacturing company Herbert Parkinson.

The textile firm, which is a wholly-owned part of the John Lewis Partnership, is run as an independent company and supplies curtains, blinds, fabrics, duvets and pillows.

Founded in 1953, it employs 242 staff, and all are offered the opportunity to enhance their skills and knowledge in their chosen field.

Margaret Rush, learning and development coach at the Monton Road site, said training was integral to the ethos of Herbert Parkinson. She said: “Continuing employee development is what we continually strive to achieve, to be the best that we can be, to be hungry for more knowledge, to build our skills and to be more confident in challeng-ing those around us.

“Manufacturing does not draw in young people so we have got to make it a bit more exciting, a bit of a challenge, and offer development opportunities to try to keep these skills going.

“It is difficult to get skilled people, but there is nothing better than growing your own talent.” This year, five apprentices finished a two-year training programme, which was delivered in-house by Blackburn College.

Around 50 per cent of the entire workforce at Herbert Parkinson has completed an NVQ.

Senator International, Altham

A FAMILY business has transformed its commercial success into a centre of training excellence.

Senator International, the UK’s largest privately-owned manufacturer of office furniture, soon recognised there was a shortage of people leaving college with the specialised skills it required.

So it embarked on its own apprentice training programme to develop technicians, sewing machinists, cutters, sprayers and upholsterers.

The Altham-based firm also has five manufacturing units around East Lancashire responsible for producing just under one million items of furniture per year. Senator has recently just taken on ten new apprentices who will attend Blackburn or Burnley College as well. The new influx join the 12 apprentices taken on in 2012 who are studying towards a recognised NVQ qualification.

Chairman Colin Mustoe at the firm said: “It’s important that we develop our own people and that we do it for the right reasons. We send all our staff, of all levels on regular training sessions. It’s important to invest in them and it will always benefit the business.”

The firm was founded in 1976 with just three employees, growing to 978 by 2011. The business also has a London showroom, design and recycling centres in Huncoat, a manufacturing base in Lower Darwen and bases in Holland and the USA.

Chairman Colin Mustoe originally founded Kingsway Contracts selling basic office chairs. Today the firm provides a wide range of specialist furniture.