Halewood car plant takes on seven young trainees – five girls and two boys – and hails the success of its drive to increase the number of women in its car manufacturing operations. Tony McDonough reports
Merseyside’s Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) car factory has welcomed its latest group of apprentices – and for the first time in its history the girls outnumber the boys.
And the Halewood plant, which employs more than 4,000 people assembling the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport, is now asking for applications for its 2018 intake.
Five girls – Aimee Cheung, Hannah Cocklin, Isabella Dickinson, Olivia Robinson and Natasha Winstanley – will join the two boys Liam Orme and Charlie Melia on the training programme.
They will embark on the four year-long Automotive Trailblazer Advanced Apprenticeship scheme and they will play a key role in helping to manufacture the next generation of JLR vehicles to be produced in Merseyside.
After completing their apprenticeships they will specialise in mechatronics and toolmaking – designing, testing, installing and servicing the machinery across JLR’s 300-acre factory complex.
Technology-based careers in the automotive manufacturing sector don’t attract many female applicants, despite the fact they often excel in relevant subjects like design, engineering, mathematics and IT at school.
In fact, just 9% of the UK’s engineering workforce is female. However, JLR the UK’s largest car manufacturer, runs a series of initiatives to address this including their Young Women in the Know programme.
The programme inspires female students to visit the company’s factories including Halewood to gain an in-depth understanding of the extensive range of career opportunities available to them.
They also take part in hands-on engineering activities and meet with the company’s female engineers.
Since it was launched in 2012 Young Women in the Know has engaged with more than 200 participants of whom 85 have secured apprenticeships helping the company to grow its female engineering workforce to 11%.
In 2012 just 14% of JLR’s apprentice intake were female, compared to 71% in 2017.
Stuart Lord, operations director at Halewood, said: “With the cars of today and tomorrow becoming ever more technologically advanced and sophisticated it is clear our company needs even more outstanding engineers.
“To do this we speak with the widest possible range of candidates, and in particular to the many women in the North West region who have both the skills and academic achievements.”
JLR is now looking to recruit more young people to join its 2018 apprentice programme. Click here for more information.