Apprentices at leading upholstery manufacturer and supplier Panaz were celebrated at a National Apprenticeship Week opportunity with Nelson and Colne College.

Vice Principal at NCC Alison Rushton went ‘back to the floor’ at the Hapton-based company, where she met with CEO Tony Attard OBE and members of the senior management team, to gain a greater understanding of the thriving business and how it operates, and to help identify any skills gaps to strengthen its position in the future.

During the visit, Alison also enjoyed a tour of the company’s fantastic facilities and warehouse space, and met a number of Panaz employees who are upskilling with Nelson and Colne College through Apprenticeship programmes. These include Accountancy, Business Administration, Marketing and Leadership and Management Apprenticeships.

Tony Attard OBE said: “We believe very seriously in training and developing intellectual capital. We are a team-orientated business and everyone is part of that team. If people are willing to invest in us, we will invest in them. It’s a ‘win, win’ situation.

“The service we have received from Nelson and Colne College’s Apprenticeship Team has been great. It’s flexible and responsive to our needs and all of the learning has been work based without employees needing to go into college. The training has been extremely beneficial to the business too, including improving staff retention rates, which are very strong.”

Alison Rushton said: “I would like to thank the team at Panaz for taking the time to host the college’s visit during National Apprenticeship Week. I was made to feel extremely welcome and I thoroughly enjoyed my ‘back to the floor’ experience.

“It was fantastic to hear the learner journeys from our current and previous Apprentices, and the value that their Apprenticeships have brought to their roles, at whatever level they work at.

“Panaz is an exceptional and progressive business with talented staff. I am very proud that they have selected Nelson and Colne College to support their training. The visit has been very useful for pinpointing potential future developments in the Apprenticeships that we can offer valued companies like Panaz, to develop talent and support the regional economy.”

Nelson and Colne College is the number one general FE college nationally for overall Apprenticeship achievement, at all ages and levels, and is also number one for 16-18 timely Apprenticeship achievement, at all levels, in the government’s National Achievement Rate Tables.

Sarah Lloyd, Head of Creative Resources and Branding at Panaz, has completed an ILM Level 5 Diploma in Principles of Leadership and Management and an ILM Level 5 NVQ Diploma in Management.

Sarah said: “I am delighted that these qualifications have significantly helped me in my role as Head of Design at Panaz. I have been with the business a long time and have a lot of experience but I felt that I could learn more and was hungry to be challenged with new ideas.

“Most of my work is project based and these projects involve many stakeholders, both internal and external, and these relationships have already benefited from my studies. I have learned new ways to analyse and plan and this has had a direct effect on our existing projects and processes.

“Communication and collaboration are key in our overall business development and I have been able to review and enhance my approach to these after study modules in this area. From a personal perspective, I feel more confident about my leadership decisions and I embrace change in a more positive way than before.”

Nicholas Groves, a Digital Marketing Coordinator at Panaz, has completed a Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Marketing and a Level 3 Certificate in Principles of Marketing.

Nicholas said: “I believe that learning while adapting to my new position has provided me with both a deeper understanding of marketing responsibilities generally and the personal skills which I can bring to the job.

“Learning with Nelson and Colne College at the workplace has allowed me to learn at my own pace and use practical examples from my own experiences to deepen my knowledge of marketing. I was able to structure my learning around my role by choosing units which were most convenient to me.

“My Trainer Assessor Carly was very approachable and knowledgeable and offered plenty of guidance and was instrumental in helping to make the course criteria more relatable. Panaz have also been accommodating employers, understanding the value gained from developing their staff and providing me with the time and support required to complete my courses well within the scheduled timeframe.”

For more information about Apprenticeships by Nelson and Colne College contact 01282 440319 or visit