Almost 30 employees at a Greater Manchester company are benefitting from fully-funded training to prepare them for future opportunities while keeping the business ahead of industry best practice.

Snuggledown, a pillow, mattress topper and duvet manufacturer based in Wigan Borough, has accessed LEAN Manufacturing training through Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s Skills for Growth programme, which aims to combat skills gaps identified by employers across the city-region.

Despite only having just enrolled onto the course, the business is already seeing benefits across the workforce with employees encouraging each other to take part and putting their learning into practice.

Paul Bratianu is a machine operator at the Ashton-in-Makerfield factory. He said: “At first, I was sceptical and I thought the learning was outdated but I was looking at ways to improve my skills so I decided to volunteer.

“I now know what my value is and how to use my potential to benefit myself and the factory.

“I’m encouraging my peers to take part too because it will only help us with career progression.

“I’m interested in how this job can help me grow professionally and I think this course will ensure I’m competent.”

Instep UK has been awarded £1.2m from the European Social Fund by GMCA to deliver management training and technical skills including mapping production processes, problem solving and making workplaces more efficient – otherwise known as ‘lean’ manufacturing.

This Learning at Work Week (16-22 May), Snuggledown is encouraging others to make the most of the bespoke learning opportunities available through Skills for Growth.

Tony Bravender, Production Change Manager at Snuggledown said: “To access fully funded training is a God send. I know not a lot of manufacturing businesses have a large training budget, so this programme has definitely gone a long way to helping us support our employees.

“Not only will our collective learning help us to increase productivity, improve machine liability and build on our health and safety procedures but it demonstrates a commitment to staff, therefore encouraging retention and ensures our employees remain engaged with the company.”

Instep UK provides commercial and funded learning solutions to businesses and individuals across the UK.

They specialise in leadership and management programmes across a variety of sectors but recently diversified into manufacturing, logistics and HGV.

Jenny Parkes is the Operations Director for the company. She said: “Learning doesn’t have to stop when compulsory education comes to an end. We’re passionate about ensuring that people can continue to learn and better themselves when they’re in the workplace and supporting the employer to facilitate those opportunities too.

“Every organisation we work with is different and the sector they work in has their own needs, so we look to design a programme bearing these needs in mind. Once a programme has launched, we will always evolve it in line with the feedback we receive.”

Tony added: “Instep has been really flexible with Snuggledown. We’ve thrown them challenges regarding when the training can be delivered to ensure learning aligned with our shifts. We also had to amend some sessions at short notice, but they have been really accommodating.”

Skills for Growth is a three-year programme funded through the European Social Fund, which has been developed to build a collaborative relationship between employers and the Greater Manchester skills system.

Following robust engagement with employers by GMCA, gaps in key sectors have been identified leading to bespoke, fully-funded training to support the city-region’s workforce to thrive.

Some sectors this work is already taking place include; digital, construction, low carbon and retrofit, health and social care, hospitality and manufacturing.

Councillor Bev Craig, Greater Manchester’s lead for Work, Skills, Education, Apprenticeships and Digital said: “This is a great example of how training providers part of the Skills for Growth family will offer a tailored approach to ensure the business and workforce can maximise benefit.

“Continuous learning isn’t just about preparing us for new opportunities, it’s also about ensuring we can keep up with the constantly evolving industries that are having to make changes as a result of the environment around us. Covid-19 is a perfect example – many businesses are having to adapt, so learning how to keep abreast of such changes is paramount to business success.”

For more information about the Skills for Growth programme, visit www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/skillsforgrowth.


Article Published: 16/05/2022 10:00 AM