In less than a year, Kelvin Hughes has developed eight local projects that aim to grow the skillset of young people in the Enfield area and generally offer support to the community. The company’s commitment includes the London Borough of Enfield, and also neighbouring boroughs and towns in North London, East Hertfordshire and Essex.
In a great show of support, three MPs visited Kelvin Hughes to learn more about the project and observe how the company is giving back to the local area with investments in employment and the development of the borough Enfield.
John Hayes MP (previously the Minister of Further Education), Mel Stride, Parliamentary Private Secretary and Nick de Bois (Member of Parliament for Enfield North), met with Kelvin Hughes Chairman Maxwell Packe and Kelvin Hughes HR Manager Margaret Bundy at the company’s Head Office in Mollison Avenue.
The meeting included a tour of the Kelvin Hughes facilities and discussions focused on how Kelvin Hughes is helping out in Enfield. The two company representatives discussed the opportunity to improve links with the local job market and workforce through the provision of a Northern Gateway access road, with the additional railway line being extended to Enfield Lock. Improved bus routes could also help with securing a highly skilled and motivated workforce through working with University Technical Colleges.
Margaret Bundy, HR Manager at Kelvin Hughes, commented: “Kelvin Hughes is committed to helping, supporting and growing the Borough of Enfield. This year so far we have employed seven people from the 18 to 24 bracket of the local unemployed range in the ChartCo business of Kelvin Hughes. These roles have included customer service positions in the navigational data distribution business. Four of these recent recruits are degree graduates.”
Enfield Borough Council is constantly striving to build the borough’s economy by attracting businesses to operate from Enfield, thereby reducing unemployment and improving the borough. As one of Enfield’s major employers, Kelvin Hughes feels that it has a responsibility to its local community.
Mr Maxwell Packe, Kelvin Hughes Chairman, commented: “Kelvin Hughes has established a Centre of Excellence in Enfield in two main fields: Technical and Customer Service. The company’s demand for technical skills is high, with its Enfield-based design, development and manufacture of radar systems for naval, military and merchant marine customers. As the largest distributor of marine navigation data to the world’s commercial shipping industry with a big focus on extremely high levels of customer service, Kelvin Hughes also puts a lot of importance on this kind of skillset.”
Project 1: Ambassadors Group
Kelvin Hughes – supported by the North London Chamber of Commerce – worked with local councillors and local businesses to develop an understanding of local transport links and employment in the borough, and how these two components are intrinsically linked.
Better transport means better mobility for job seekers and more opportunity for further education, all of which Kelvin Hughes sees as a top local priority.
Project 2: University Technical College Forum
The Duke of York is sponsoring the development of land being donated by Enfield Council and Meridian Water to build a University Technical College (UTC) in Edmonton, near Enfield.
The project aim is to deliver a balanced technical and applied education programme to meet the needs of local business and commerce across the London-Stansted-Cambridge corridor. Kelvin Hughes is and will continue to be a key player in this UTC project.
The company will shortly be providing a course curriculum and assisting with keeping the syllabus on track with tutors. Kelvin Hughes has been invited twice to Buckingham Palace for discussions on this and apprenticeships, and hosted the last UTC meeting at their premises on the 1st July.
Project 3: Hertford Regional College Apprenticeships
This project is focused on introducing technical apprenticeships back to Kelvin Hughes to ensure a future local skills base in radar equipment design, development and manufacture. This is something Kelvin Hughes has believed in and run many times over the past 50 years, with employees still working with the company up to 46 years later, having started their careers as apprentices.
One such long-serving team member is Margaret Bundy, Group HR Manager, who is working closely with the apprenticeship scheme and has been with Kelvin Hughes for more than 30 years.
Kelvin Hughes management recently visited Hertfordshire Regional College to look at their facilities, and they expect to start the first apprenticeships in cooperation with Hertford Regional College in Turnford, Borough of Broxbourne in the coming months.
Project 4: Hertford Regional College Customer Services Training Pilot Scheme
Kelvin Hughes is working with Hertford Regional College to form a syllabus, and will be providing on-the-job training to participants via three 6-week courses. These will take place in college and at Kelvin Hughes’ Enfield-based distribution and customer service centre, which employs over 100 employees in Enfield alone and has facilities in eight countries around the world.
Kelvin Hughes has a customer service-centric nautical chart and navigational data distribution business operating under the name ChartCo which distributes over 750,000 nautical charts per year worldwide and distributes data electronically through their specialist subscriber service – to over 4,000 subscribers.
This scale of customer service requirement offers a great learning environment for participants, with direction from some of the best in the business.
Project 5: Job Centre Plus
Kelvin Hughes has interviewed for thousands of roles over the years and come to believe that many highly-skilled, bright and clever people are not best represented on first meeting due to poor interview techniques.
Job Centre Plus has to cover many skill types and many industries, making it difficult to specialise and support every applicant to a consistent standard. Therefore, it is the responsibility of all employers to help job seekers maximise their chances and thereby improve the economy both locally and nationally.
The right fit for Kelvin Hughes is often found by looking past what is just seen at interview. In May, Kelvin Hughes Group HR Manager Margaret Bundy spent a day at the Local Job Centre Plus offices, advising staff and answering questions from an employer’s perspective on areas of improvement. She also discussed areas of interest for long-term unemployed people, as well as skills sets and how to reassess potential applicants’ suitability for positions available in the local area; not just at Kelvin Hughes.
Project 6: Barnet College
Well-known for its belief in apprenticeship schemes, Kelvin Hughes is also supporting Barnet College with educating pupils and staff about opportunities within technical and customer service-based apprenticeships.
Project 7: North London Chamber of Commerce
Working with other major local employers to address skills shortages in the borough, Kelvin Hughes has been requested to collaborate further and look at ways of developing the local skills base.
This project is not just for young people, but also experienced workers – whether employed or not – looking to develop their skills base or retrain to take advantage of local job opportunities. The focus again is to promote and provide support with the University Technical College for further education, technical training and apprenticeship schemes.
Other companies involved include Coca-Cola Enterprises in Edmonton and Johnson Matthey at Brimsdown. Johnson Matthey is a leading speciality chemicals company that produces sustainable technologies that improve life for millions of people worldwide. Coca-Cola Enterprises is the world's third largest independent Coca Cola bottler and the only licensed bottler for products of The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) in Belgium, continental France, Great Britain, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.
These big industry players show the kind of commitment to further education that exists locally, and Kelvin Hughes is proud to be involved.
Project 8: Local Supplies Sourcing
Another key initiative that Kelvin Hughes is spearheading since moving to Enfield last year is sourcing supplies locally wherever possible. This might be as simple as stationery or electrical components for the maintenance of the building, but the plan is for this to become common practice in day-to-day business, and the company hopes to encourage other local businesses to do the same.
As a company with 250 years of history and several employees closing in on half a century of service, Kelvin Hughes is more committed to employment and further education programs than ever.
Working with the local community and other big employers in the area is a high priority for the company – not least, because the technical world is always thirsty for new, bright minds.