Christopher Greenough, Director of Shrewsbury-based Salop Design and Engineering, one of the UK’s leading engineering firms specialising in pressings, assembling and coating, has long been a believer of giving back to the community. “I’m always trying to make links with the local community”, Chris explains that he is always searching for ways to work with and for the companies and institutions in the area to strengthen current relationships and build new ones.
A few years back, he saw that the local college, Meole Brace Science College, was hosting a summer
fair where local businesses could go and exhibit, allowing children and young people to gain an insight
into the nature of local employment and a taster of the working world. Speaking to one of the teachers, Chris suggested that the students should visit the Salop factory nearby to show them the premises, equipment and engage them with manufacturing.
“The only thing with getting kids into a factory is that you need to explain how it would be of educational value to the school”, he explained. Understandably, with education facing an increasing amount of cuts as the country works to eradicate its deficit by 2017/18, schools are wary of spending time and money on excursions for kids without there being a quantifiable benefit for their grades.
Chris says this is just “one of the things we and the teachers have to battle with”, but earlier this July
after hearing Chris’ idea, the science college agreed to have a trip to the Salop factory. Staff of Salop gave the children a short induction, followed by a tour of the premises with some time taken to perform some practical activities working with the machines. “You’ve got to put a spin on it to actually get kids interested - There’s no point just bringing them in and showing them round the press shop and saying ‘it’s a noisy environment, would you like to work here?’ because the first thing they’ll say is ‘no’. What you have to do is show them that what they’re learning at school actually can be applied when they get a job in manufacturing”, explained Chris . Students were then given a piece of paper and laser cut some crosses into the paper to find out how much material would be needed for pressing, did some basic maths and worked with some scrap to get the kids engaged.
Due to the positive reception of the initial visit, Meole Brace Science College then agreed to send top
maths students over for a few days to spent time in the quality department looking at measurement reports and getting a better handle on how they can use their school subjects and apply them to
manufacturing and the world of work. Despite the rousing success of the college visits, Chris remains ever vigilant for opportunities to get involved in local activities. Soon after, Salop forged a strong relationship with the 1st Wem Cub Scouts, also in Shropshire, and had scouts greeted by Councillor Jon Tandy before escorting them and their family members round the factory to look at different metal pressings and coatings. Cubs were even encouraged to make and bring home their own mementos in the forms of scout badges embroidered with the Salpo logo.
Salop additionally invited young people form the Shropshire Youth Health Champions, a group of
young people ages 11-25 working to make improve communities, to lend them assistance in their
current project of brightening up the newly opened Ward at the Telford Hospital. They group were given a site tour, and then had a brainstorming session to finalise designs and ideas. Salop then fabricated the groups ideas and paint them ready for being put up at the Hospital.
It is evident with the high level of cooperation with the local youth, that Chris and the rest of Salop are heavily invested in the future of their community and also the industry. “I see a skills gap”, Chris proclaimed, saying that “with manufacturing on the up” and with the industry already growing, there
are going to be large vacancies for skilled manufacturers in coming years. Salop know this and have
recently taken on 3 apprentices with the vision of taking them on as skilled staff upon completion of their apprenticeships. Eyes fixed on the ahead, Chris thinks the industry needs to consider, with ashortage of skilled workers already emerging: “what do we do 5-10 years time? How do we get these kids into engineering?”. Chris and the Salop are aiming to not only strengthen connections with the local community but also to prepare them and themselves for the continued growth and success that manufacturing and engineering are to enjoy in the coming years. To them, it’s about giving back to
those around you and showing the new generation what an exciting career engineering is and will be
as they surge on ahead into 2015.
Company Salop Design and Engineering
Website Salop Design and Engineering
Salop Design and Engineering is one of the leading manufacturers of pressings and assemblies in the UK, with quality and service being synonymous with the company for over 50 years.