Sustainability Case studies

Unipart educational partnerships

01 July 2013 #Sustainability Case studies

There is a recognised shortage of skilled engineers in the UK.  When developing our CSR strategy in Unipart Manufacturing, we wanted to do so with the theme of working with young people and, having reflected on the skill sets in our business, the physical location of our factory and the wider national issue of a lack of skilled engineers we have developed a strategy which is to ‘Encourage young people into adopting careers in Engineering and Manufacturing’.

We recognised the need to develop different approaches to tackle different age groups, consequently we have programmes to engage with students aged under 11 , 11-16 and 16+, which lead us from engaging and enthusing younger pupils through to a structured recruitment pipeline with older students.  We have developed educational partnerships to support each programme. This has directly resulted in one student joining us as an apprentice (he now runs the 11-16 programme), one student being sponsored through a full time University degree course, with the commitment of a job at the end, and another student recruited and being sponsored through a part time degree course.

We have worked with educational partners to identify the nature of issues for different age groups and agreed the following:

  • <11yrs, with a local school we integrate factory and classroom based activity to deliver a key theme in the year 6 curriculum;
  • 11-16, with the Engineering Education Scheme we provide structured work experience for students from 2 local schools;
  • 16+ – with Coventry University and the Nuffield Bursary Scheme we offer structured work experience, with the opportunity to solve real life problems, to high performing students.

The experiences that we offer to students are structured to address the overall objective of promoting careers in Engineering and Manufacturing in line with our Corporate values and the Unipart Way with a particular focus on creative problem solving, team working, leadership and the concept that, with deliberate practice, everyone has the potential to be great.

Creative Business Skills in a Local School

Unipart Eberspächer Exhaust Systems (UEES) have continued to develop strong community links with Holbrook Primary School, located adjacent to the factory. This is the fourth consecutive year that UEES has helped to deliver the year 6, Creative Curriculum topic “Life in the fast lane” the outcome of which is to design, manufacture, test, evaluate a powered vehicle then to present their findings. UEES support with this project is broken into four phases:

1. Sixty year 6 pupils, aged 10 or 11 years old were welcomed to UEES. Thirty pupils visited in the morning and thirty in the afternoon, and all enjoyed lunch in the factory canteen with UEES staff. At the end of their visit the pupils were presented with their project challenge – to work in teams to build a powered vehicle.

2. The second phase took place at Holbrook with UEES employees accompanied by an Aston Martin employee, who brought a prototype vehicle to enhance the pupils’ experience.

3. Holbrook pupils divided into small groups and progressed their project to construct and evaluate an electrically powered vehicle. A group of four girls were chosen as the winning team, the third consecutive all girl group winners.

4. UEES concluded the project by visiting the Holbrook award ceremony and presenting the winning team with the UEES technology trophy, engraved with the team members’ names.

Employability skills in Automotive


The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), through its Charitable Trust, has teamed up with the Foyer Federation to support a programme aimed at encouraging young people to come and work in the automotive industry in the UK.


The programme seeks to develop the skills of young people to enable them to be employable and ultimately independent adults.


Unipart Manufacturing are members of the SMMT and we were approached earlier in the year with a request to become involved in the programme, along with Ford and Toyota, and provide work related, project based, opportunities through pilot schemes to some of these young people.


The scheme closely fitted our Corporate Social Responsibly (CSR) strategy of working with young people and encouraging them to pursue careers in our industry, and so we agreed to participate and have been working on identifying suitable work related projects.


A team of 6 young people joined recently for a period of 5 weeks on suitable work related projects. The team worked on a project in the Teaching Factory at UEES in the HPE (High Performance Exhausts) area with the HPE team.  The project was looking at creating kits of parts to help improve the efficiency of the area.



Engineering Education Scheme (EES) and Unipart Eberspächer Exhaust Systems (UEES)



The Engineering Education Scheme has over 1600 students across the whole UK participating every year. The students have the potential to be part of a growing generation of able young people heading towards higher education, who will have the benefit of industrial liaison, sampling university life before making their UCAS choices, and eventually influencing their career choices. Encouraging young people about engineering, science and technology is vital to this country’s competitive role in the future.

UEES support a team of students from a local Coventry School – Coundon Court School.

The programme begins with a kick-off and teambuilding event which is jointly attended by the students and UEES staff. This is used as an opportunity to introduce the pupils to the concept of creative problem solving – a core tool of the Unipart Way.


The Project

As part of UEES’s responsibility to the scheme, we must provide a real life problem to the students. The problem identified related to a welding jig “fit” issue. This was detailed to the students in a presentation (supported by props in the form of real life parts of the exhaust system) in a session at the school.

The school team visited UEES for an initial training session on Creative Problem Solving. This included a full site Health & Safety induction, a tour of the factory and the opportunity to ‘go and see to understand deeply’ (a key Unipart Way principle) the real life problem on the line.

The UEES team coached and mentored the students through the problem solving process through a series of school visits, backed up by workshops at UEES to prepare for a residential week at Birmingham University. The joint team attended this week where the students had the University’s resources available to them so they could finalise and test their solution, before presenting their results.

The end result was an excellent solution to the jig fitment issue.

A report was written, on their final solution, with the help of the engineer mentors from UEES and the team were coached in their presentation techniques and supported in ensuring  successful construction of their display for the assessment day.

The students manufactured an excellent mock-up of the jig solution which very effectively displayed how the solution would be practically applied.

The West Midlands celebration and assessment day was held on the 5th May at Cranmore Park in Solihull. Teams presented their projects before the assessment panel and were then interviewed before the exhibition was opened for supporting companies.

There was great effort and enthusiasm shown by the team from Coundon Court School which was matched by the team from UEES. The solution proposed by the team will be introduced in the factory and results monitored.

The partnership works really well, and brings benefits to both the school and the company and we plan to continue in future years.

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