Engagement Day 2023

On Thursday 7th and Friday 8th Feb, we hosted engagement days, where we brought students from the Accrington Academy into the business. This is part of our ongoing initiative to showcase British manufacturing and what this could mean for young people as they start thinking about their career.

Lancashire has an incredible manufacturing heritage, and to continue to grow, innovate and inspire in this industry we need the energy and ideas from our young people.


What are you interested in? 

Our group tours started off with by asking – what are you interested in as a career? None of the students were considering manufacturing, yet there were plenty of answers around IT, technology, and digital roles.  

 However, what many people don’t realise is that manufacturing is embedded with technology - whether that’s the IT systems we use to underpin our process, or the state of the art technology on our shop floor - technology, IT and digital skills have never been more important to the manufacturing industry. At The Senator Group, we have reinvested in technology to make our operations more efficient. This means we have some of the most high-tech machinery in our industry – so apprentices that join The Senator Group can work with state-of-the-art equipment and develop skills that will be ‘future proofed’ as technology continues to evolve within the manufacturing sector (we even have employees specialising in robotics!).

Questions to our Colleagues:

Next, we had a Q&A panel with four of our younger members of staff, all of which have been part of the Senator apprenticeship programme:

  • Ellie Lord is our youngest female upholsterer, and began her journey with Senator as a 16 year old apprentice
  • Ben Taylor started with The Senator Group at 16 as a loader – but he decided he wanted a more technical role. There’s so much variation in our business that moving into a new role is commonplace – starting off in one department does not mean you have to stay there. Ben was fully supported in his upholstery apprenticeship and is now a fully qualified upholsterer.
  • Jordan Pilkington is joined us straight from school and is now fully qualified as an upholsterer.
  • Charlie Spencer came through our graduate scheme. He started off with the continuous team and is now a production manager at just 27. Charlie tried a traditional university route but found it wasn’t for him; instead he thrived in a more hands on environment and successfully completed his business management degree (level 6) in 2022.

 Typical college and degree courses do not suit everyone – our apprenticeships and graduate schemes enable young people to ‘earn while they learn’ and individuals that complete the course have ready made roles to move into, with significant opportunity for movement and progression around the business.


Next, we brought the business to life with a full factory tour – we started at goods inward and worked our way around the factory, following the process of building a product until it is packed and ready to go. This gave us the opportunity to show off our technology, our processes, and our products, and how this all linked to logistics once the product was shipped.

As a local Lancashire business that exports to 165 countries across the world, logistics is a critical department for us. Whether that’s delivering across the UK on our in-house fleet, or exporting as far afield as Canada, Australia, and Singapore, we couldn’t do any of it without a dedicated logistics team to keep everything on track. 


Sustainability Session: 

We are immensely proud of our sustainability ethos, and the next stop of our tour was our in-house recycling/remanufacturing facility, Sustain, to explain the importance of growing the business sustainably. Through the mantra of reduce, re-use, recycle, we demonstrate an innovative approach to sustainable thinking, and Sustain helped us to demonstrate how manufacturing businesses can support alternative career paths such as ‘green jobs’. Sustain is one of our most innovative parts of the business, from materials re-use, to new product innovations, to social value via product donations, it supports.


After the tour it was back to our production room with some interactive games –

How quickly can you upholster a piece of foam (FAR harder than it looks! All of the students made a good attempt, with two from each cohort managing it within the time limit).

Higher or lower – can you guess product costs?

By the end of the day, we felt that the students had learnt a few things from seeing what a factory looks like first hand, and understanding the types of roles available. They found out some interesting facts too (did you know that stores pickers have to learn to abseil as part of their training?)

Thank you to Accrington Academy and to the students for being so engaged!

And how many people does it take to make a chair? When you think about designers, testing, manufacturing, logistics, installation, invoicing…the answer is actually over 100! So somewhere in the process, there is a role for everyone.


Further Information:

We are always keen to share insight into what makes British manufacturing great – and how you can become part of an industry that stands for quality and innovation.

Check out our careers page for more info on The Senator Group and to find out how you can become part of the family…

If you’re interested in our apprenticeship programme, contact hr@thesenatorgroup.com or the North Lancs Training Group. We take on apprentices at all ages. We offer apprenticeships in upholstery, mechatronics, sewing and many more, with fantastic benefits such as a £2/per hour above minimum wage pay packet, and qualification in just 12 months.

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