Jobs following new Thetford contract

Growing Norfolk engineering company Warren Services has swept up an export contract worth almost �1m which will create 10 jobs.

The contract with UK manufacturer Johnston Sweepers – which must be completed within six months – will see the Thetford-based company create brush parts for 250 road sweepers to be exported to eastern Europe.

It comes on top of a record forward order book for the firm which reported a 20pc turnover increase in 2011 to �5.5m.

However, chairman Richard Bridgman said that the firm struggled to find skilled workers and was committed to its apprenticeship scheme, with a plan to take on six new apprentices adding to the current 86-strong staff, who work at three sites in the town.

The business, which has been based in Thetford for six years, has also taken on four long-term unemployed after providing work experience to seven people from Job Centre Plus.

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The roles have included administration and a “shop floor” job.

“As a company we are trying to give something back. We are not just take, take, take,” he said.

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Mr Bridgman said Johnston Sweepers had supplied Warren Services with a complete machine so it could try each of the 250 brushes before they were sent off.

“We are producing all the machined and fabricated parts and finishing in house and procuring all the bought out parts for this assembly. All of them are destined for a major overseas export order,” he said.

Johnston, which has production sites in Dorking, in Surrey, Sittingbourne in Kent, and Ash Vale, in Hampshire, was already a Warren Services customer for 12 years and the new contract will treble the amount of work that Warren Services does for the firm. The sweepers are being assembled at the Sittingbourne site.

Mr Bridgeman, who is also chairs SEMTA – the sector skills council for science, manufacturing and technology – said: “There are some fantastic kids out there who haven’t had an opportunity.

“Out of seven we gave work experience, we have taken on these four.

“We need to get the message out to other companies that there are people out there. Eighty-three per cent of engineering companies do not have apprentices.”

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