Building the manufacturing skills pipeline as students take a tour of Kilwaughter Minerals

Pupils from Larne High School alongside the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, had the opportunity to learn about local firm, Kilwaughter Minerals which produces high quality products for the construction and agriculture sectors.

The company recently completed a major capital investment for additional warehousing and a blending plant facility to assist the company to meet the increasing demand for products across Ireland and Great Britain.

During the visit, the Mayor highlighted the importance of private sector organisations engaging with educational institutions: “It is through first-hand experiences such as this that will help educate and inform young people across the Borough of the many opportunities available in the manufacturing sector, roles which include engineering, research and development, sales, marketing, human resources, quality control and production”.

“Kilwaughter is a key employer in Mid and East Antrim and one which has continued to invest in its people, facilities, and future. I am delighted to see its continued commitment to Larne and ongoing engagement with young people.”

During the visit, the students had the opportunity to learn more about what makes a major manufacturing company work, the tour of the manufacturing plant included an insight into product development, business development, quality control and engineering.

Graham Whitehurst MBE, Chair of the Manufacturing Task Force (MTF), explained more: “The MTF, is an industry-led initiative which supports and stimulates the area’s manufacturing and engineering sector, it has two main goals: supporting the creation of new and replacement jobs and restoring the confidence and ambition of the manufacturing and engineering sectors across the Borough. The current focus is on skills, cleantech and digitalisation.

Graham added “Kilwaughter Minerals is one of our MTF members who have a primary focus on implementing skills initiatives to ensure a pipeline of talent in this sector.  “This visit allowed students to directly engage with a key employer in the area and thus support future skills needs and provide an opportunity for companies to help drive recruitment into our Borough’s advanced manufacturing sector.

“It is incredibly important not only for students to meet businesses, but for companies to have the chance to meet young people. A current initiative which is driving this link is the Brian Cox Science Summer School which aims to inspire young people to become the next generation of scientists with a programme that mixes the best of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) through a series of seminars, discussions and hands-on experiments.”

Gary Wilmot, Chief Executive of Kilwaughter Minerals, said the firm’s expansion in recent years meant it had to “grow in scale and scope”, which in turn necessitates talent. “Engagement with schools is essentially important to ensure there is a pipeline of essential skills for future career opportunities not only for us, but also for the wider Borough and Northern Ireland” he said.

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