‘Normalise women going for exactly what they want’

A North Manchester woman working in manufacturing is encouraging others to develop their skills after benefitting from fully-funded training. 

Lauren Madden, 31, works for The Flava People – a food manufacturing company based in Wythenshawe - as a senior development technologist.

Her role involves infusing flavours to create bespoke recipes for marinades and sauces, which are then sold to large and small retailers across the country.

With the Covid-19 pandemic meaning that businesses are needing to adapt and improve their digital presence, Lauren’s employer encouraged her to seek out new training opportunities in order to diversify her role.

She has since completed a three-week Greater Manchester Skills for Growth course in digital marketing with UK Skills Academy and has enrolled onto an 18-month level 3 digital marketing apprenticeship, which she hopes will deepen her new learning.

Lauren said: “Manufacturing and digital are two industries typically dominated by men but I don’t think that should stop any woman who is excited about finding out more.

“Thanks to the Skills for Growth programme, I’ve accessed training that will help me break the bias in both industries, normalising women going for exactly what they want.

“I’ve always been interested in digital marketing so I couldn’t wait to explore it as part of the day job. Traditionally, my role stops once the product is created, so my new learning will help me to deliver a much more rounded package to my clients.

“It’s not often you get the ability to deliver a hybrid role like this, so the qualification I’m working towards will put me in a really unique position.”

The training is being delivered as part of Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s three-year Skills for Growth programme, which has been funded through the European Social Fund and has been designed to fill skills gaps identified by employers across priority industries in Greater Manchester.

UK Skills Academy was awarded £2m of Skills for Growth funding by Greater Manchester Combined Authority to enable ‘Digital Skills Growth & Productivity’, which supports employees to develop practical skills such as cyber security, data analysis, information governance and digital marketing.

As a result of her learning, Lauren has secured a spot on a panel at The Flava People alongside employees from across the business, which prioritises reputation and business-to-business reputation management.

Scott Dixon, Managing Director of The Flava People said: “Following the Covid-19 pandemic, we knew we needed to change how we delivered our services.

“But, as a small business we don’t have big budgets for training so it was really beneficial for Lauren to be able to access a fully-funded course.

“Some small businesses are afraid to upskill their staff in case they decide to leave but I’m a firm believer in the opposite. If you show your employees that they’re valued, they are more likely to stay and grow with you as a business.”

The Flava People also benefitted from expert support from Skills for Growth – SME Support, a consultation service delivered by The Growth Company that helps small to medium enterprises in the city-region to identify and fill their business’ skills needs.

Scott added: “Skills for Growth helped – SME Support helped us to identify our gaps and it was clear there was real need for digital marketing.

“It’s fantastic that this has led to Lauren learning a new skill, which will not only support our business but will help Lauren to bolster her offer to our clients and is also a fantastic addition to her impressive skillset and professional development.”

For more information about what learning opportunities are available across Greater Manchester, please visit our Work and Skills webpages (internal web page).