Skills shortage is desperate for firm

RECRUITING Kevin Fox and Caroline Dinenage
RECRUITING Kevin Fox and Caroline Dinenage
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A SHORTAGE in skilled workers is causing a problem for the manufacturing industry.

Kevin Fox, managing director of Norjon Ltd, a company which makes metal moulds for the plastics industry, says the only way he can get good staff is through apprenticeships.

He says he has been working with the Portsmouth and south east Hampshire Business and Education Partnership on an apprenticeship programme, and has been encouraging schools to visit his factory in Gosport to see first hand what the firm does.

He said: ‘We’re desperate for some more skilled people, and I could employ four more people right now if I could find them.

‘It’s the skills that we lack.’

Mr Fox began his apprenticeship programme two years ago, and now has three young people working for him and training at Highbury College in Cosham.

He has also taken on unskilled members of staff and trained them himself in order to get the staff he needs.

But he says schools need to help youngsters understand about careers in engineering.

He said: ‘The schools could do a hell of a lot more, as they don’t promote engineering at all.

‘It’s got this image, a dirty image of smelly workshops.

‘But when the kids come and see my factory they’re quite shocked at how clean and nice it is.’

Mr Fox began as an apprentice himself, working in Gosport for George Kingsbury Engineering, working with Norman Goff who was one of the founders of Norjon.

He kept in touch with Mr Goff, and was offered the chance to buy the firm in 2002.

Then it had five members of staff and in Mr Fox’s first year of ownership it had a turnover of £275,000.

Now, following a £1.5m investment and a new factory opened officially in February, it has a turnover of £2m – and growing.

The firm now employs 28 people and makes the moulds used to manufacture drinking cups lids for fast food chains such as MacDonalds and Burger King, as well as for the coffee shop chain Starbucks. It has also manufactured moulds for Formula 1.