FURNITURE components manufacturer and distributor Hill’s Panel Products (HPP), which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, is investing in workforce development with 17 staff joining an ILM Level 2 qualification course for leadership and team skills.
HPP serves the national kitchen and bedroom fitting industry.
It has over 2,000 trade customers, including installers and showrooms, and supplies over 6,000 products including its own brands of doors and cabinet components.
Reflecting the size and complexity of the business, the company offers a wide range of career roles including manufacturing, factory maintenance, warehousing, logistics, sales, accounts, marketing and IT.
It said a first cohort of supervisors and team leaders has passed the ILM course while a second group has started the course and a third group will begin in coming weeks.
ILM is a City & Guilds training business and the Level 2 qualification looks at leadership and teams.
The qualification is designed to help individual staff improve their performance as team members and assist their transition from working in a team to leading a team.
It also helps practising team leaders to be more effective and confident in their work.
Dan Mounsey, HPP’s Director of Marketing and Business Development, said: “Our business is committed to skills and training right across all departments and at all levels.
“It’s great to see 17 staff involved with this Level 2 programme.
“It will enhance our operations in many ways by giving staff more insight, skills and understanding of business needs and issues.
“It’ll boost both individual and team communications, direction, productivity, planning, problem-solving and development.
“We are also looking to progress staff onto the next Level 3, building on this.”
Two groups of staff have taken part in the ILM training held at Oldham Events Centre at Oldham Athletic FC.
Among the first employees to pass the latest course is Scott Frost, aged 33, who is a day supervisor in board production.
Scott, from Watersheddings, attended the former Counthill School and has been with HPP for 17 years.
In his early years with HPP, he attended machine operating courses with HPP and the North Lancs Training Group. Later, he worked his way to become a team leader, then ran machines and then became a night supervisor.
Regarding his current role and latest ILM training, he said: “I work with a team of 17 and my job is to ensure we reach production targets and the highest possible standards.
“But there are lots of things to consider in addition to the core tasks and targets.
“The ILM training has helped us to look at the bigger picture, delegate more effectively, balance immediate and longer term goals, and be more aware of individual staff’s individual circumstances.
“I’ve made a few changes since coming to this department through bringing a fresh pair of eyes and the ILM course helps us to review what we do.
“I’d recommend the training.
“It benefits you work and also life outside work.
“The more knowledge and skills you can gain, the better you are equipped to deal with lots of things.
“I’m happy in my current role but in future I’d be interested in getting the next level at HPP and to see where that takes me.”
In other skills-related activity, HPP is providing new work, training and mentoring opportunities for six youngsters at its Oldham HQ and second UK distribution centre in Sheffield, under the Government’s national Kickstart scheme.
The Kickstart programme provides funding to support placements for 16 to 24-year-olds at risk of unemployment but keen to gain experience, skills and an income.
HPP said it has a history of commitment to skills, training and career opportunities over the past 30 years.
Activities include HPP staff supporting jobs fairs to raise awareness of furniture industry careers to young people and hosting group events and factory open days at its HQ.
Its Oldham base has been expanded in recent years with major investment in a second vinyl-wrapped door production line and additional warehousing for its own products and those from other suppliers, such as worktops, surfaces and decorative panels for domestic, retail and commercial interiors.
HPP also takes pride in being an innovative and responsible manufacturer.
It was a finalist in the Insider Made In The North-West Awards 2018 and a sustainability partner at the national 2019 KBB Retail & Design Awards held in Manchester.
More recently, it gained the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEF) global accreditation, recognising its work in supporting sustainable forestry and timber trades.
The accreditation came after a rigorous assessment process which provides assurance that HPP buys timber products from sustainable, legal and traceable sources.