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Inspiring the future of the automotive industry

The Nissan Skills Foundation was created to engage young people across the North East in the world of engineering, manufacturing and design whilst also raising aspirations.

At Nissan we aim to inspire the next generation to discover new passions in STEM by delivering a range of fun and exciting programmes.

Nissan skills foundation

The Nissan Skills Foundation engages with schools to deliver programmes that make daunting topics like the engineering behind an electric vehicle fun, and to encourage children to consider careers of which they may have never dreamed.

Since the Nissan Skills Foundation’s launch in 2013, it has established itself as the bridge between the local community and the art of manufacturing, impacting over 80,000 children in the North East and showing the local community that social issues, economic background and gender are not barriers to a career in advanced Engineering and Manufacturing.

Nissan skills foundation

Nissan Skills Foundation: Core Objectives

  • Raise interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in primary, secondary and tertiary schools
  • Raise the aspirations of local youngsters to show that social issues, economic background and gender are not barriers to a potential career in Engineering and Mathematics
  • Raise awareness of opportunities and the desire to work in the Manufacturing and Engineering sector
  • Engage with the broader community
Nissan skills foundation

Facts and Figures

Students as of February 2023
Female attendance
Primary school students
Secondary school students
Teacher events
Different school activities - Year 3 Primary - Year 13 Secondary
Individual schools, 78-mile radius of the plant
Special educational needs students




Originating in Japan, the Nissan Monozukuri Caravan has been adapted by our Training Department at the Nissan Sunderland Plant (NMUK) in order to provide hands on, interactive workshop for Year 6 students in line with our Corporate Social Responsibility.

The full school day programme, which incorporates the Japanese idea of see, hear and touch, has been developed by Nissan Sunderland to allow Year 6 students to ‘learn through doing’ in a safe environment whilst still adhering to the national UK curriculum with some added Japanese flair. The programme also aims to boost interest in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) from an early age.

During the programme the students compete in teams to build a model Lego car in the fastest time and to the best quality with the focus on teamwork, removing waste and discussions to highlight potential improvements. The students have the chance to use some of the tools that we use at Nissan Sunderland in a safe and controlled environment. They are also shown how we take the raw materials from a coil of steel, to the finished vehicle.


Eco School at Nissan further develops former Monozukuri caravan students delving into all things Eco system. Year 5/6 students interactively investigate the real world environmental problems we face with our world and harness their youthful imaginations to seek to amend them. The programme, originating in Japan as “Waku Waku Eco Joy Joy”, has been adapted by Nissan Sunderland to link with the national curriculum. This is a real community programme where Nissan engages with the local primary schools to enable students to explore and learn about the effects of Global Warming and Climate Change under an industrial microscope.  

A difficult concept to understand, scaled down to bring real world problems into the classroom with live experiments popping and fizzing, demonstrating first-hand the global problems we face. Chemistry, biology and physics compacted into an interactive day ensuring that all are engaged. The creation of electricity, light, movement, gas and heat from the most unlikely of places bends the expectations of how our world functions, linking right back to our plant here in Sunderland. 

Using Nissan Sunderland as a case study, students can investigate what the plant is doing to reduce its impact on climate change and the things in our day to day life that have the biggest environmental impacts. A forum to discuss and even burn fossil fuel, create greenhouse gas, manipulate protons and electrons, fix the ozone layer, refreeze the icecaps and literally save the world!

Prior to attending the programme the students will be required to do two things

  • Design and colour in their own Nissan LEAF. Nissan Skills Foundation team will then choose the best design, and choose a winner to receive a prize.
  • In groups or on their own, the students will design and build their own wind turbine. This renewable energy project will be subject to tests as part of the programme at the beginning of the day to see how successful the design is.


An exciting opportunity for students aged 9-11 to experience the use of code in the world of manufacturing. Developed from the UK government initiative, the session is delivered by young IT/IS apprentices and is an interactive workshop based at the Nissan Sunderland plant.

Covers national curriculum that includes:

  • Sequencing, repetition, variables and selection
  • The 6 hour workshop uses a combination of Scratch projects and programming Crumble Bot robots to show how code is used at Nissan
  • Interactive activities are used to teach the basics of coding. Learners work in teams to solve problems. Students of all educational abilities can take part


The Lesson In A Box – Nissan Way is an activity box aimed at upper key stage 1 / lower key stage 2. This activity engages the youngest learners. The box introduces Nissan, the people who work there, the types of jobs they do and the values of the business. Children will learn about Japanese culture and two important words: Kaizen (continuous improvement) and Perseverance. The box is packed with activities and resources that will remain with the schools for a full term then be collected. The box includes ideas and curriculum links.


Nissan Skills Foundation, in partnership with VEX Robotics, host an exciting event for female Primary School children (Key Stage 2 and 3) to attend a Girl Powered workshop. The Girl Powered initiative aims to create a more inclusive environment for all students within the robotics community. The workshop includes:

  • A hands-on robotics challenge
  • 2 STEM team activities
  • The chance to take the Girl Powered pledge
  • Inspirational female keynote speaker


This annual event, which was inspired by the Government initiative “See Inside” is supported by Nissan Graduate Engineers, caters for up to 2,000 children. During the ½ day event children are shown how the world is changing; technology is rapidly advancing and how engineering is playing a major role. They are also taken on a tour of the final assembly line where our cars really begin to take shape and finishing touches are made. The Nissan LEAF (our electric vehicle) is directly compared to other fossil-fuelled vehicles and the children are able to participate in several interactive activities.


This event is aimed at female students from Years 9-13 and has been set up to highlight and promote career opportunities for females within Manufacturing and Engineering. This is a half day event where female members of Nissan staff, ranging from General Managers, Senior Supervisors, Controllers and younger Apprentices, act as role models and present and discuss their career journeys. Together the students and Nissan Sunderland staff take part in practical activities and discussions. This session aims to dispel the myths and to take away the stereotypes that exist around girls engaging in STEM based activities. We will show the different routes and pathways into Manufacturing and Engineering, and by challenging their perceptions we can raise their aspirations to want to have a career in Engineering.

Gimme North East Automotive Alliance – This follows the identical format to Gimme Nissan but is supported by female staff from tier one suppliers. Suppliers will present and discuss their career journeys and entry points to their business, alongside Nissan staff.


FIRST LEGO League is a global robotics-based life skills competition delivered in the UK and Ireland by the Institution of Engineering and Technology. Working in teams, young people aged 9 – 16 develop the confidence, problem-solving, teamwork and communication skills they will need to prepare them for the 21st century engineering workplace. The teams design, build and program LEGO robots to complete missions on a themed playing field and then compete against the clock to score as many points as they can. They also research a real-world problem for which they design an innovative solution and throughout these challenges they display the FIRST LEGO League Core Values: FUN, Teamwork, Inclusion, Innovation, Inclusion and Discovery. Nissan will provide free kits to schools, pay the registration fee, provide support and also host the FIRST LEGO League tournaments at the Sunderland plant. This was possible through the support of a grant from Reece Foundation which allowed us to provide the equipment. Winning teams from the tournaments will automatically qualify for the FIRST LEGO League UK & Ireland Final.


VEX Robotics is one of the leading platforms for educational robotics around the world. With the plastic VEX IQ platform for Key Stages 2 & 3 and the metal VEX EDR Cortex and V5 kits for Key Stages 3, 4 and 5 it is perfectly placed to allow students to grow and develop in an open-ended, problem-solving and engaging way. The free programming software, ranging from Modkit, a simple drag and drop format through to the more advanced Robot C based on C++ language makes VEX accessible to all.

The kits can be used in the classroom and as part other extra-curricular VEX Robotics Competition. This is the largest and fastest growing robotics competition in the world with events held each year across the UK. Involvement in the competition develops key skills including teamwork, time management, perseverance – all of which are valued by employers. Nissan will provide VEX IQ kits, registration fees and host the regional tournaments.

Courses include:

  • VEX 123 – Primary
  • VEX GO – Primary
  • VEX IQ Competition – Primary and Secondary
  • VEX Robotics Competition – Secondary and College
  • Girl Powered – Primary and Secondary


For more information about our VEX programmes please get in touch.


The Engineering Education Scheme (EES) is a unique opportunity aimed at students aged 16-17 years old who will discover how Physics, Chemistry, Technology etc. are applied in an industrial environment. The 6-month practical programme links students with an interest in Engineering and Manufacturing with industry professionals to solve real technological, scientific and engineering problems that are relevant to working in the car-manufacturing industry. Students develop their skills in communications, teamwork, time management, problem solving, report writing and Just In Time (JIT) process mapping and planning through professional skills lectures

Integrated into these lectures, the students are given advice and support on how to effectively present their solutions in the form of a verbal presentation and formal written technological report to a panel of senior professional engineers. This hands on experience also incorporates university engineering workshops to develop, build and test solutions to the problem.

Furthermore, students have the opportunity to meet and take part in an invaluable Q&A session with professional and graduate engineers, scientists and technologists. As part of the programme students also undertake a factory tour. The teams compete regionally for the Nissan sponsored trophy and those teams that reach the final competition stage also qualify for the Industrial Cadets Gold Award and Crest awards.


After several requests from schools last year, we took the decision to come together with this new initiative of engaging with all year groups – introducing STEM subjects from an early age and linking them with engineering.

Current Available Programmes:

  • School Assemblies
  • Lego Sessions
  • Bringing a Nissan car out to the school
  • Career Fairs
  • STEM activities
  • Supporting our VEX and FLL teams
  • Made In The North East Day


Additional Information

  • Teachers will organise with the team what kind of day/visit they would need
  • Each session can take maximum of 30 pupils
  • Children of all educational abilities can take part.
  • All the activities have been risk assessed and this will be provided to schools.
  • All Nissan staff taking part in the course have a current extended DBS check
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