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Evertaut - British Manufacturing Through the Eyes of a 14-Year-Old on Work Experience (and why Evertaut won’t be taking on another one)

British Manufacturing Through the Eyes of a 14-Year-Old on Work Experience

Evertaut News

16 May, 2024

British Manufacturing Through the Eyes of a 14-Year-Old on Work Experience (and why Evertaut won’t be taking on another one)

For the past two weeks, we’ve had LJ (14) with us on work experience. Her energy and interest in British manufacturing inspired this collaborative post. She’s spent time in the office, sewing room and shopfloor, getting to know the Evertaut family – exploring the brand we know and love. And, as we round up the time she’s had with us, it is difficult to decipher who has learned more from this rite of passage – that almost all UK young people experience.

“If I were to describe my work experience in three words, I’d say it has been fun, eye-opening and busy. Is that four words actually?!”

We laugh. I immediately apologise.



On LJ’s first day, we walked together through our Lancashire factory on the journey of a chair. “You’re very passionate about it,” she said. Admittedly, I was emboldened by her words. Evertaut is our passion, it’s personal and we’re all committed to manufacturing quality British seating that lasts. As Company Director this commitment comes with its own challenges, and I realise this time is the longest we’ve spent together since her first introduction to the world of work. A time she’s likely to remember her whole life.


Everyone in the Evertaut office could remember their first experience of work. Can you remember yours?

Horizon Foam was mine, which happened to be one of our foam suppliers when I joined Evertaut 16 years later. Our family (the Smalley family) has been involved with the Evertaut brand since 1981, Christopher (Co-Director) worked at the company 18 years before we purchased it, becoming the second generation of Smalleys at the helm of an almost century old brand.

“There’s something always going on here, loads of different things happening, which is good for me because I love being busy. My mum says it keeps me out of trouble.”



Within hours of LJ’s arrival, I found her sat at one of our older industrial machines (Supervisor close by), confidently adding a zip to a bag she’s so beautifully crafted. Admittedly, I was surprised. Her grandmother had taught her how to sew and competently at that. Asked what she planned to do when she left school (recruitment never stops), LJ told us that she fancied a career on the cruise ships, dancing. My eyes widened.


How does a young person who wants to be a dancer, end up at a British seating manufacturer for work experience?

I instantly flashed back to the incredulous careers’ advice offered to some of my classmates… Mercifully, this wasn’t the case here.

“I just fancied something different, I already dance three nights a week and at weekends. And I thought I might get paid here (laughing).”



LJ is fun.

Polite, well-mannered, and kind, she uses laughter to connect with people beyond her years. Staff, comment on how competent she is at the tasks presented to her. She talks with warmth and respect about her parents and siblings, and I think the latter have garnered her the patience required to introduce me to TikTok (of which she is a wizard with almost 500,000 views on a single video). Then it strikes me…

She is the world she has created for herself. Busy. Eye-opening. Fun.

“I actually suggested that I came to Evertaut. I researched local businesses and looked at different manufacturers who could show me how a business runs.”

She admits this experience is the first time she’s ever thought about how the seat was made that her cruise ship audience sits on. Who made the hospital beam that her relatives waited on, to welcome her into the world. The people behind the office chair she so casually perched on to craft her makeup bag. But the reason she knows now is because she is busy. Opened her eyes to a world beyond the one her phone curates for her. Fun enough to bring enjoyment to some of the repetitive but essential tasks (although she hopes never to see another Delivery Note again).Evertaut - British Manufacturing Through the Eyes of a 14-Year-Old on Work Experience (and why Evertaut won’t be taking on another one)


Manufacturing is a cornerstone of the UK economy. Not only does it provide high-quality, long-term jobs which pay well above the average, it pumps massive value back into the economy through investment, research and growth, Made UK.

LJ will dance on cruise ships; she deserves for her hopes and dreams to be realised. Her approach to life and work will make it happen. I ask her who will manufacture the goods to enable that service economy to thrive. Furthermore, where the money will come from to enable her enamoured audience to take that dream cruise?

“Evertaut. We all need each other.”

She laughs loudly again but there is truth in her jest. Directly or indirectly the future of British manufacturing needs people like 14-year-old LJ and she needs businesses like us.

Thank you, LJ – a wonderfully insightful two weeks! We’re grateful to have been a part of your career journey. If you reflect the standard of work experience candidates out there, we’ll pass on taking another one… we’ll have three!

Are you on the right path? Take the UKAS Career quiz here >>>> https://www.ucas.com/careers-quiz Please us know what it suggests for you and whether we can add you to our mailing list.