NLTG: Giving people the skills to succeed for 50 years

As it celebrates 50 years and plans for the next 50, North Lancs Training Group (NLTG) is honouring its past as it moves forward, growing sustainably and sensibly. Encompassing 5,571 sq m, the prominent head office in Accrington town centre, which houses more than 160 employees, isn’t full of the hustle and bustle you would expect.

Gareth Lindsay, managing director at NLTG, says: “You know it’s a busy day when the office has lots of empty chairs. The majority  of our team are tutors who are out working directly with individuals on our apprenticeships or other programmes, developing working relationships and keeping close connections with businesses.”

NLTG is one of the largest independent training providers in the country. Over the last 50 years the business has diversified to meet changing demand.

Initially a training group, which was formed from and funded by The Furniture and Timber Industry Training Board, the business started with a single office on Paradise Street in Accrington.

Jim Harkness, who later became managing director and received an MBE for services to training, was appointed as the new group training officer shortly after it was established in 1969.

NLTG has expanded over the years and now have multiple hubs of learning which are all busy and thriving.

The Centre of Vocational Excellence for Furniture Manufacturing, Old Bakery Centre and Oldham Centre offer state-of-the-art, practical and hands-on facilities for learners, with programmes including provision for the unemployed, traineeships, study programmes and apprenticeships.

In the present day NLTG work with a large range of businesses across a variety of sectors from small local companies to national ones such as Adidas, Princes Foods, Dr Oetker, Sofology and Silentnight.

Gareth took on his current role in August of last year, when Jim stepped aside. He says: “Jim was the core of this business for a long time, it was his dedication, drive and vision which laid the foundations of the business and that’s what we are carrying on today. The business grew with him at the helm.

“We are very much still connected to our roots and it’s an important part of what drives us forward; the business is actually owned by 34 group member companies who are mainly in the furniture industry located in the North West of England and Northern Ireland.”

Changes from external influencers, such as the apprenticeship reforms and a shift in government funding for apprenticeships has pushed NLTG to re-structure as a business.

Now on the other side of the transformation work, directors Gareth Lindsay and Collette Humphreys, plus the other six directors on the board, can reflect and congratulate the NLTG team.

Collette Humphreys, operations director, who has 33 years’ service at the company, is looking forward to the future growth the restructure has enabled.

She says: “No one will say it’s been easy; we have completely re-looked at the way we operate, developed a commercial strategy and undergone a massive transformation in the last 12 months. I am very pleased to say we are now on the other side of this and have kept what we are about at the core of it.

“I can confidently say every single member of staff has stepped up to the plate, they have helped each other and really embraced the family-culture we strive for.”


Gareth says: “We have listened to what employers want and our aim is to give people the skills needed to succeed and excel in the workplace.

“Together we have looked at every aspect of the business, how it was running, how it was managed, and have worked to make it more effective and efficient, whilst never compromising on the quality service to employers or learners. We are now in a position to grow, confidently, sustainably and sensibly.”

With more than 150 awards under their belt, including a record number of City & Guilds Gold Medals for Excellence (70), the team at NLTG couldn’t be prouder of the business. Putting its money where its mouth is, NLTG don’t just persuade other businesses to give people an opportunity to learn, more than 25 per cent of its own workforce are current or previous apprentices.

Gareth adds: “One hundred per cent of our apprentices stay in work, with the vast majority staying at the business they completed their apprenticeship at.

“Recently we opened HIRE, our new recruitment agency which helps people at all stages of their work-life journey.

“We take a modern approach working collaboratively with employers.

“Through this and the dedication and versatility of our excellent team, we are able to add value to so many businesses. covering a large number of occupational areas such as furniture, hospitality, management, digital marketing and logistics to name a few.”

Celebrating 50 years, NLTG is completing 50 acts of kindness to give back

The NLTG team is ploughing through their 50 acts of kindness for this year and is focused on giving back to the local community which has supported them for half a century.

So far the acts have included: supporting local food banks, donating Easter eggs to ELHT&Me for Blackburn Hospital’s Children’s Ward, crafting 70 deckchairs for community events and baking cupcakes for year 6 leavers at Belthorn Primary School… just to name a few!

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