A FIRM'S decision to create personal protective equipment (PPE) for key workers has allowed two staff members recruited through an employment scheme to further develop their manufacturing skills.

Carton manufacturer JSB Enterprises, based in Bishop Auckland, has adapted several of its cardboard cutting machines to create protective visors in response to demand for PPE during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Northern Echo:

The company began its new enterprise by adapting one of its machines to create the protective equipment and supplied the visors to care homes, bus services and other frontline organisations.

Following the success of its first machine, the company has now been met with a national request for protective visors and has adapted two more of its machines to supply the equipment across the country.

The ability to diversify production means owner Rob Barrons has been able to keep business running as well as secure the jobs of his six workers, including two staff members recruited through Durham County Council’s Employability Durham scheme.

The two members of staff, Nathan O’Keefe and Mark Stephenson, have been employed by JSB Enterprises within the last year and have benefitted from being able to develop their skills in the manufacturing industry.

The company’s move to creating and distributing PPE during the pandemic has allowed the pair to take these skills further while playing their part in supporting key workers in a time of national need.

Councillor Carl Marshall, Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “It is great to see that businesses across County Durham are finding ways to adapt their existing capabilities to support a national effort in protecting key frontline workers and stopping the coronavirus outbreak.

“This is also a perfect example of how Employability Durham coordinates with businesses to provide support and opportunities for those trying to get back into work. The workers gain the opportunity to develop their employable skills in their industry while the employer gains hardworking employees who are willing to diversify these skills in a time of need.”

For more information about Employability Durham and its services, visit durham.gov.uk/employability