HPP helps Saddleworth School students prepare for the future

SADDLEWORTH School pupils have gained valuable interview experience and skills as part of longer-term guidance for career and education choices thanks to Oldham-based Hill’s Panel Products.

The furniture components specialist HPP, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, serves the national kitchen and bedroom fitting industry.

The company recently assisted Saddleworth’s Year 10 pupils with online mock interviews to give them the opportunity to talk confidently about their interests and ambitions, and also be more aware of the importance of personal behaviour and body language during interviews.

Carole Hamnett-Sadler, HPP’s HR Manager, has supported the interviews along with Dan Mounsey, Marketing and Business Development Director and a former Saddleworth School pupil.

Carole said: “Year 10 students are at the stage where they are starting to think about their futures after taking GCSE exams next year and leaving school at the age of 16.

“Whatever options they choose – from sixth form, college, employment or apprenticeships – they will probably be invited to interviews.

“Mock interviews held now will help them prepare for real interviews in future, boosting their confidence, skills and presentation.

“We’re delighted to be able to support Saddleworth School. It’s really rewarding to help a wide range of pupils, hear about their interests and offer some thoughts and advice.

“Our company has a history of commitment to the community and to education, skills and training at all ages and levels.

“In addition to mock interviews, our activities with young people include attending regional jobs fairs to raise awareness of furniture industry careers, supporting a state-of-the-art youth centre in Oldham and hosting educational visits to our HQ.

“HPP is also a growing business and a significant employer with a wide range of career opportunities across various ages, levels and disciplines.

“We also offer in-housing training and external training opportunities, such as ILM courses being held this year.”

More than 200 Year 10 students took part in mock interviews online with local firms, organisations and other contacts.

Christine Dempster, the Business and Careers Lead at Saddleworth School, added: “We’re really grateful to HPP and all the other businesses, organisations, parents and individuals who support our mock interviews.

“These give students confidence, encouragement and experience of a real interview situation in preparation for college and apprenticeship applications.

“Traditionally, businesses and other contacts in the community have helped us by conducting face-to-face mock interviews and in other ways, such as visiting school for business lunches to speak about careers.

“However, the covid pandemic restrictions have meant a lot of physical careers activities have not been held. Instead, students have received a lot of other advice and resources, including these mock interviews online.

“We’ve had a brilliant response. We’re really grateful for all this input. It makes such a difference to students.”

HPP was formed in 1991 to supply components to the furniture industry. Since then, the company and product range have expanded to more than 2,000 trade customers and 6,000 products, including its own brands of doors and cabinet components.

The company is headed by brothers Martin and Stephen Hill and managing director Keith Wardrope, and it has its headquarters in Oldham and a second UK distribution centre in Sheffield.

HPP is investing in its workforce development, with 17 staff joining an ILM Level 2 qualification course for leadership and team skills.

A first cohort of supervisors and team leaders has passed the ILM course while a second group has started the course and a third group will begin in coming weeks.

HPP is also providing new work, training and mentoring opportunities for six youngsters under the Government’s national Kickstart scheme, which provides funding to support placements for 16 to 24-year-olds at risk of unemployment but keen to gain experience, skills and an income.

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