Unite supported apprentices shine at Sun Chemicals

Unite the union has been working with Sun Chemical MSN in Norton Radstock to deliver IT training and apprenticeships to staff at the global printing inks and coatings supplier production base in Somerset.

Staff at Sun Chemicals

In May 2016 Unite South West Learning Organiser Roy Winter approached Matt Lanfear, Unite site rep at Sun Chemical, about the possibility of any members engaging into education. Online IT training and possible apprenticeships tailored to suit company needs was discussed and an approach was made to a local education provider, Element.

Matt explained that with the company being supportive they then created three different apprenticeships covering most site operations.

Matt said:

I asked Neil Thomas, shift manager at Sun Chemicals MSN, if he would be interested in helping with the training and together, we canvassed the Unite membership resulting in much interest being shown.”

With agreement from the employer secured and lots of interest from staff at the site Matt and Neil started to set up IT training sessions. This was helped by Roy who attended the site to deliver support to the training.

Once the IT training was up and running they moved onto exploring the apprenticeships. Matt and Neil felt it very important that consideration whilst setting up the apprenticeship included the core skills of English and Maths and the courses would be tailored to where an individual worked.

Matt takes up the story: 

We offered Level 2 manufacturing and operations, Level 3, Warehousing and Logistics and Level 5 Management and Leadership. After further discussions on site it was agreed we would proceed.”

With the support of Element staff coming on to site, Sun Chemical local Management, Unite and ourselves we were able to deliver and support training and advise during each module through to completion.”

This continuous assessment with tasks to complete week to week was without doubt a challenge for some.

Matt said:

It had been a considerable time since some had done any formal learning and for these continued efforts, we feel they should all be very proud of themselves. Well done to them for completing their courses and being awarded those “well deserved” certificates at the end of it.”

Neil added that: 

At the end of the programme of training many people achieved something to be proud of and hopefully this will help them in the future to achieve greater things and to have more confidence in themselves. It is hoped that further “work based” training will continue and other employees will see what can be achieved with some dedication.”

Both Matt and Neil took time to offer special thanks to Frank Ford who, having worked through his own apprenticeship, then stepped in and supported others!