A Tees-based training company that took swift action when the coronavirus threat struck is coming through the crisis with a growing team, 84% of its learners placed in work and three major contracts involving thousands of jobs coming on stream.

Simon Corbett, who set up Orangebox Training just four years ago in UKSE’s Innovation Centre in Hartlepool, says the changes made to the business have gone better than he dared hope.

“We were working in four key areas of training when lockdown struck and felt we had to act really swiftly to protect the business,” he said. “We closed down three of those areas and chose to concentrate on warehousing which was growing strongly.  We had just started training 100 people for Amazon in Darlington but the classroom courses had to stop immediately.   We were also unable to place any young people in work experience.”

The company had contracts with Tesco, Teesport, Hermes and others as well as Amazon.   It took immediate advantage of the government’s furlough scheme for some of its 14-strong office team and of the grants that were available.

“They were a huge help,” said Simon Corbett, “and we also had great support from UKSE’s Area Manager Sarah Thorpe, local colleges at Stockton and Sunderland and national prime funder System Group.

“We decided to move the whole warehouse training online which involved researching platforms and procedures as well as re-organising teams and content.  At that stage there were only four office staff operating but everyone worked unbelievably hard and we had two new platforms launched within five days – for our training team delivering the online training and for office staff registering learners securely.”

Orangebox has always seen its strength in providing effective and enjoyable training and wanted to transfer those pluses online. As coronavirus struck it had already trained more than 2000 people, won a business award, was operating globally and across the UK and looking to an annual turnover of £1m.

Just a few months on from lockdown, the original 14- strong team is back with two additional new members and a further six people joining its bank of 30+ skilled trainers.  Some training rooms are re-opening too – in Bradford and Sunderland – – with Covid-safety measures in place.

The three major new contracts involve large warehouse facilities in the UK, including one in the Tees Valley, set to create 1,500 jobs each.  These projects were planned pre-Covid19 and demand has only increased with the growth in home deliveries and online shopping.

“We are also seeing an increase in enquiries for paediatric first aid and risk assessment training from schools and local authorities as they prepare schools for September,” he said. “Thanks to the amazing Orangebox team, our learners putting their heart and soul into the training and our supporters all pulling together the future is still looking good.”

Details of UKSE’s support for business from 01642 777 777 and www.ukse.co.uk. Orangebox Training is on 01429 874530 and www.orangeboxtraining.com