Bradford Firm Manufactures Opportunities For Apprentices

A custom-made catwalk designed, built and installed by the joinery manufacturing team at Bradford firm PEC provided a fitting platform to showcase designer fashion collections at a charity dinner held at Harewood House in Leeds.

PEC managing director Balbir Panesar offered to donate the 60ft catwalk, which was designed and built at his company’s manufacturing facility on the Euroway Trading Estate and installed by a team of joiners on the morning of the event.

The star-studded Fashion With Dinner evening was organised by The Prince’s Trust to raise funds to support its work in the region. Designers Jeff Banks CBE, who hosted the event, and Amanda Wakeley OBE unveiled their latest collections at the extravaganza.

“We don’t often design and build bespoke products that are dismantled 24 hours after installation. But projects such as this one provide good learning experiences for our team, which includes a number of apprentices, while at the same time we can use our skills and resources to support a very worthy regional cause,” said Mr Panesar.

Last month, Mr Panesar championed apprenticeships in the manufacturing sector when he and several other influential Bradford industrialists met the Business Secretary Vince Cable MP to talk about the problems facing businesses.

“We discussed the importance of apprenticeship schemes and the Government’s current drive to raise awareness of their value to the health of British industry. We have employed apprentices since the 1990’s and in the past two years have invested £100,000 in training. We firmly believe that businesses have a responsibility to build teams who can help them grow, and our recent skills investment has contributed to an increased turnover.”

PEC currently employs four apprentices across all areas of its business.

Adam Johnson, 19, works in the 35,000 sq ft factory, where the manufacturing team can make anythingfrom a simple door and frame to a complex circular reception counter. Recent projects include medical furniture and shelving for a ward refurbishment at Bradford Hospital.

Adamhas just started his third and final year at Leeds College of Building, where he’s studying Shopfitting and Bench Joinery.

“Apprenticeships are ideal as you get to go to college once a week and to work and experience the job first hand. I am extremely lucky that my employer PEC is continuing with my qualifications and I’ll also be getting trained in AutoCAD and SolidWorks,” says Adam.

The other apprentices are Jack Cookson, in his second year of a plumbing course, Jordan Knowles, in his second year of a decorating course, and Jordan Acaster, an electrical apprentice.

Recent PEC apprentice graduate Jack Gledhill, 21, completed a Bench Joinery Apprenticeship at Calderdale College last year. He’s now being trained on the machines.

“It’s great to work for an employer that takes training seriously,” says Jack.