National Apprenticeship Week 2024 – Alan’s story

National Apprenticeship Week is a chance to recognise the important role apprenticeships make to individuals, businesses, and the wider economy. 

Unipart supports and encourages employees at all levels to continually learn, develop and grow at every opportunity, and one of the ways this is achieved is through its apprenticeships. 

Alan James, Unipart Way Manager, recently achieved his Level 6 Improvement Leader Apprenticeship, which is delivered by Unipart’s Six Sigma experts in conjunction with Anglia Ruskin University (ARU). This nationally-recognised apprenticeship qualification forms part of The Unipart Way Black Belt certification.

Unipart started teaching this as an Apprenticeship in 2022, which Alan is among the first delegates to have completed. Improvement leaders are expert practitioners of The Unipart Way and use their deep understanding of the Operational Excellence system to drive business benefits through continuous improvement and innovation, and to coach others to do the same.

Alan’s story

Alan first joined Unipart in 2006 as a practising consultant. His previous experience with lean processes at Toyota meant that he could quickly see that The Unipart Way was created using the very best aspects of various manufacturing models focusing on the both employee and customer, and therefore something very special.

Since joining Unipart Alan has worked across the UK and Europe in FMCG (McBride), Aerospace (BAE Systems, Strata & Northwest Aerospace Alliance), and Manufacturing (ESAB & McLaren). Throughout this time Unipart continually invested in Alan to give him the tools he needed to effectively demonstrate and coach The Unipart Way.

Alan explained: “Unipart invested in me every step of my journey – who would have thought the scruffy council house kid from Walsall would get this opportunity. At the age of 56, Unipart has again invested in my development to achieve my Level 6 Improvement Leader.

“Through this I have been taken out of my comfort zone, enhancing the skills I have developed and making me think in a different way about data and culture. The coaching and support I have received has been second to none and I can honestly say this is down to The Unipart Way culture.”

During the programme a support network was set up for Alan with mentors from Unipart and ARU and Black Belt forum access to provide guidance throughout the program. Regular coaching reviews during and after the formal training sessions helped to keep Alan focused and on-track, particularly during his writing of a 5000-word dissertation and professional discussion preparation.

Reflecting on the support he received, Alan said: “If you show a desire to grow at Unipart you will get all the support you need whatever your age. My support network was key and without this I wouldn’t have been able to complete the program.”

The hard work and commitment Alan has shown to the Level 6 Improvement Leader programme has propelled him to the next level. He explained: “The Level 6 and Black Belt have given me insights to a different world. With the training I feel better prepared for adapting my approach to improvement activity and events depending on the audience, whether it be shop floor or senior executive level, giving me flexibility and capability to deliver structured engagement, build capability and deliver and report real business benefits in an appropriate format for the audience.”

Unipart is committed to investing in its people, enabling them to fulfil their potential and build a bright future. Click here to discover more about career opportunities at Unipart.