Dawn visited pladis’s Harlesden factory in her constituency last Friday to meet some of the female engineers and Advanced Team Members working at the site in celebration of International Women in Engineering Day (Saturday 23 June). The visit was organised to raise awareness of the under-representation of women across all levels of the UK’s engineering workforce and inspire more young women to join the industry.
The Harlesden factory has been part of the local community since 1902 and is home to many of McVitie’s product innovations, including McVitie’s Digestives, McVitie’s Chocolate Digestives and McVitie’s Rich Tea Biscuits. It is also the biggest biscuit factory in Europe, producing over 132,000 tonnes of snacks per year.
Dawn was accompanied on a behind-the-scenes tour of the manufacturing site by Nina Sparks, Factory General Manager, who began her career at the site as an engineer and now leads the team of 600 staff representing over 50 nationalities. Of pladis’s seven manufacturing sites across the UK, three have female general managers leading their teams, while 38% of its 2017 graduate engineer intake is female.
The visit also marked the celebration of an award received by the Harlesden factory team to recognise pladis’s outstanding commitment to providing skills and training for employees. pladis’s Advanced Team Member learning scheme received the Festival of Learning (FoL) Employer’s Award at a ceremony in London on 12 June. The training programme is run in partnership with the College of North West London and has provided 120 employees access to higher-level engineering skills, as well as functional English and Maths.
“It was fantastic to meet Nina and her team to celebrate the impressive female talent within pladis’s workforce on International Women in Engineering Day. There is still a momentous challenge ahead to inspire more young women to join the industry and challenge outdated stereotypes of a career in engineering. I’m positive that businesses like pladis can make a big difference raising awareness of the benefits of a career in engineering and ensure a better representation of women across all levels of the UK’s engineering workforce.”
Nina Sparks, Factory General Manager of pladis Harlesden, said:
“Many think of engineering roles as dirty and manual but in fact, being creative, a team player and an excellent communicator are essential aspects of the job. Perceptions must change so that more women will be inspired to join the industry. We’re extremely proud of our work at pladis to encourage young female talent to aim higher, break stereotypes and take on exciting career opportunities in engineering. I’m delighted that Dawn Butler could join us in celebrating International Women in Engineering Day.”