Global construction products manufacturer, Sika, opened its doors to the next generation of budding chemists, engineers and customer service advisors at its Preston HQ this week, when children from a local primary school arrived to explore the world of work.
The Olive School is located just yards away from Sika’s Preston site, which houses the research and development centre for the company’s UK business and global Sika innovation, along with offices, manufacturing for its Sika Liquid Plastics and other Sika products, and a dedicated training centre. Sika has an established programme of community engagement and outreach to local schools, including involvement with Lancashire Science Festival at The University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN), involvement with careers talks at local high schools and sponsorship of a local youth football team. Its latest school initiative was prompted by road safety concerns on the road that the two organisations share and has already blossomed into a long-term partnership.
Sika’s operations manager for the company’s Preston site, Lisa Baines, explains: “The Olive school opened just a stone’s throw from our manufacturing site two years ago and there have been issues with parents parking on the road, which is logistically challenging for us and creates a safety hazard for the children. The school has emphasised to parents that free parking is available for them at a nearby car park but, when the problem persisted, their management team and ours decided to find a positive and creative way of involving the children to get the message across.”
The result was a poster design competition which saw the children create posters about road safety and anti-bullying. The response from students was so good that executive principal, Dawn Forshaw, invited Lisa to help her judge the entries and Lisa invited the winning children and their teachers into Sika to find out more about what the company does.
15 children arrived on site fully-kitted out in high vis jackets and collected their ID badges at reception before gathering in the canteen for a welcome and introduction. They then toured Sika’s manufacturing, customer service, marketing and technical departments, hearing about the variety of jobs employees do at the company and the diverse products the company supplies for construction projects all around the world.
Meeting members of the team in every department, including chemical engineering Intern, Mohammad Aiyub Patel, the youngsters enthusiastically asked and answered questions throughout the tour before returning to the canteen to receive their Sika goody bags and a certificate for doing so well in the poster design competition.
Dawn Forshaw commented: “This has been a fantastic opportunity for the children to gain first-hand experience of a real workplace and find out more about the variety of jobs that they can aspire to in the future, which is something we’re always keen to offer them. We are fortunate to have a major manufacturer and research facility right here on our doorstep and we’re looking forward to continuing to forge strong links with Sika in the years to come.”
Lisa adds: “As a company, we’re always eager to engage with the local community and inspire young people about their future careers. While the children from The Olive School are still very young, it’s never too early to inspire them about careers!”
The Olive School is already talking to Sika about the next joint venture between the two organisations, with Mohammed due to visit the school to deliver a ‘Big Stars, Litte Stars’ talk on his journey to university and becoming an intern.