The Engine Shed is now closed. We have left these original pages of the website as a record of our work.
The Engine Shed started out as a training project and became a business almost as a by-product. We now see ourselves very much as a social business, with each of the two sides of the enterprise equally important.
A Successful Training Project
The Engine Shed was established with the idea of making training 'real life', so that our trainees could learn practical skills by doing them and learn social skills through interaction with both their peers and customers. Our model has proved very successful. Trainees are with us for three years and gain a wide range of vocational skills and they also mature and develop the social skills they need to take the next step into the adult world.
At any one time we have around 30 trainees, all of whom gain nationally recognised qualifications such as the National Certificate in Food Hygiene. Before the recent recession we consistently found paid work for around 80% of our trainees; times have become harder but we are still getting around 60% into paid work directly from the Engine Shed. We expect this proportion to rise again as the economy improves.
A Successful Business
Although the Engine Shed was originally conceived as a training project, almost by default we became a successful business as customers responded to the good food, lively atmosphere and unique setting of the Engine Shed. We soon established a loyal customer base, not only within the Engine Shed, but through selling our bread, tofu and other products to shops across the city.
It took us a while to develop a more business mind-set but over the past decade we have been working hard on this. We now generate more than half our operating costs from sales and we are always looking at ways to improve and develop. A team from PricewaterhouseCoopers is currently working with us on our future plans so watch this space!