Michelin Ballymena responds to economic downturn by investing in £1.7m skills development programme

Invest Northern Ireland and the EU are helping Michelin in Ballymena to raise the skills levels of its employees and improve profitability, through a £1.7 million training programme.

Michelin manufactures heavy bus and truck tyres at its site in Ballymena, primarily for export to North America and Europe.

The staff training and development project aims to help the company enhance performance in a number of business areas, including production and administration, so that it can be more competitive in the global market.

Invest NI has offered over £610,000 towards the total investment costs, which includes part funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Niall Casey, Invest NI’s Director of Business Improvement Services, said: “It is crucial that local companies such as Michelin comprehensively evaluate their functions, identify areas for improvement, and take appropriate actions to develop performance in those areas. It is also vital that businesses strive to maintain performance levels in areas where they are already operating well. This is particularly important in the current economic climate, where cost minimisation and high product quality are essential in order for companies to gain a competitive advantage.”

Graham Whitehurst, Factory Manager of Michelin in Ballymena, said: “One positive aspect of the global economic downturn is that it provided an opportunity to accelerate our Skills Development Programme and prepare for the future.

“I am delighted with the involvement and participation of employees at all levels, from production workers through to middle and senior management, who are broadening their skills in areas such as lean manufacturing, team development, waste reduction, finance, energy awareness, customer service and safety management. Much of this is being delivered in-house, with the management team providing over 55,000 hours of training so far.    

“This Invest NI and EU backed initiative is already making a difference to our cost-effectiveness, performance and international competitiveness, and we are also seeing results in enhanced workforce morale and job satisfaction. All the improvements being achieved through this training programme are helping us to prepare for the upturn in the economy,” added Mr Whitehurst.