Oldham firm HPP helps high school students prepare for post-16 choices with mock interviews

Date published: 20 July 2021


Staff from Oldham-based furniture components specialist Hill’s Panel Products (HPP) have helped high school students gain valuable interview experience and skills, as part of longer-term guidance about making post-16 career and education choices next year.

HPP, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, serves the national kitchen and bedroom fitting industry.

It has over 2,000 trade customers, including installers and showrooms, and supplies over 6,000 products including its own brands of doors and cabinet components.

The company has recently assisted Saddleworth School with online mock interviews for Year 10 students.

The interviews give youngsters the opportunity to talk confidently about their interests and ambitions, and also be better-aware of the importance of personal behaviour and body language during interviews.

Over 200 Year 10 students are taking part in mock interviews held online with local firms, organisations and other contacts.

Face-to-face interviews and other physical work experience activities have been impacted by the past year’s covid restrictions.

So alternative online help and other activities have been created and run by the school with business and community support.

Carole Hamnett-Sadler, HPP’s HR Manager, has supported the interviews along with Dan Mounsey, Marketing and Business Development Director, who is also 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.

"So, 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 with the mock interviews.

"It’s really rewarding to help a wide range of pupils, hear about their interests and offer some thoughts and advice.

“At HPP, 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.

“Our primary consideration for mock interviews with Saddleworth School is to help school students, whatever their future interests may be.

"However, HPP is also a growing business and a significant employer with a wide range of career opportunities across various ages, levels and disciplines, from manufacturing, warehousing and logistics to financial accounts, IT, website development, sales and marketing.

"We have school-leavers, college-leavers, apprentices and graduates.

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

"So, it’s also important that young people, schools and the wider community realise how much we and the fitted furniture industry offer.”

Christine Dempster, the Business and Careers Lead at Saddleworth School (pictured above), 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 that 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.

"In addition to HPP, we’ve had support from other businesses, including Kellogg’s, plus public sector organisations such as the Department of Work and Pensions, and local councillors.

"We’re really grateful for all this input.

"It makes such a difference to students.”


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