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Funded support boosts Cookson & Clegg’s workforce

Lee Rogers has found employment thanks to the scheme

A Lancashire clothing manufacturer has benefitted from a funded support programme which is helping businesses across the county recruit new staff and achieve growth.

Blackburn-based Cookson & Clegg has taken on a new employee thanks to Access to Employment (AtoE) through support from Bootstrap Enterprises.

AtoE provides Lancashire businesses with access to potential candidates to help support objectives and achieve growth, in addition to pre-employment training. It is delivered through the Lancashire Employment and Skills Executive Partnership’s (LESEP) network of partners located across the county.

Cookson & Clegg was founded in Blackburn in 1860 and produces garments for several of the UK’s leading clothing brands, including Marks and Spencer and Burberry. Its services include pattern cutting, digitising and grading, sampling and bulk manufacturing.

After being unemployed for five months and suffering from low confidence, 20-year-old Lee Rogers from Darwen embarked upon a six-week pre-employment warehousing course, arranged by Bootstrap and delivered at Accrington and Rossendale College.

The course equipped Lee with the basic skills required to work in a warehouse environment, including how to check deliveries, monitoring the arrival of fabric and materials and preparing delivery notes, as well as basic employability skills.

Lee then began an eight-week work placement at Cookson & Clegg’s factory warehouse in Shadsworth, where he gained industry experience and developed new skills including picking and packing and operating fabric cutting machinery.

Upon completion of the work experience placement, Lee accepted the offer of a full-time position within the company’s warehouse.

Victoria Grant, operations director at Cookson & Clegg, said: “We’ve previously struggled to find candidates through traditional recruitment means so Access to Employment has been great. As an employer it’s important for us to be able to create jobs for local people and the programme has helped us to do that.

“One of the main benefits of AtoE is that as an employer, we can decide what skills we want potential new employees to be equipped with, so pre-employment training programmes can be tailored to your own business needs.

“Lee showed great willingness to learn and a positive attitude, and in him we have a dedicated, hard-working member of staff whose confidence is building all the time. I’m looking forward to seeing him progress as we continue to grow the business.”

Lee added: “After being out of work for five months I’m happy I can now say I am part of a work family. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do before I went on the pre-employment course, but the support and guidance I’ve had has been great.”

LESEP secured £6.7million in November 2016 from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (SFA) and European Social Fund (ESF) to deliver AtoE through its delivery partner network. Preston’s College is the lead accountable body for AtoE.

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