HEELEY MP Meg Munn found Sheffield’s industrial skills are still a cut above the rest on a visit to a historic city scissor factory.
Meg was given a two-hour guided tour of the Ernest Wright and Son factory at Kelham Island, alongside teachers from King Ecgbert and Stocksbridge schools and cabinet member for culture Coun Roger Davison.
Meg’s interest in the city’s traditional craft skills was sparked by the Galvanize Festival, which showcased some of the city’s best metal work.
Company director Nick Wright said the MP had been fascinated by her visit – which also unearthed a family connection.
“We discovered that Meg’s father Reg had visited the factory too when he was Lord Mayor in 1976,” he said.
“We were able to present a booklet celebrating our 75th anniversary which contained a photo of that occasion.”
Meg, a keen supporter of small businesses, heard about the latest attempts to boost companies like Ernest Wright through new apprenticeship schemes.
The company finds it difficult to recruit and retain new blood, with an apprenticeship taking a minimum three years to complete but with five or even seven years being the ideal.
Nick said ideally a scheme was needed whereby the company paid an apprentice’s wages while a national heritage craft association paid for the young person’s vocational training course at college.
“There are moves afoot in this field and there are similar schemes around, but at the moment there is nothing directly to help a trade like ours,” he said.
A first step has been taken already, with a teenager taken on for a work experience placement.
The Galvanize event has helped boost interest in Ernest Wright with more than 40 people booked in for tours.
“It just shows there is interest out there– we’ve been welcoming all sorts of people,” Nick added.