Nissan is hoping to inspire kids in the north-east of England as it begins production of the new-generation Qashqai in Sunderland. The Wearside factory is celebrating the construction of the first new-shape Qashqais by inviting every schoolchild in the region a chance to participate in a programme of activities designed to interest youngsters in manufacturing and engineering.

Dubbed the Nissan Skills Foundation, the scheme was founded in 2014 and is designed to encourage young people to pursue careers in manufacturing. The scheme now includes 10 bespoke activities for children aged seven to 18, and it provides resources for regional schools to take part in international competitions.

So far, more than 65,000 young people from across the north-east of England have taken part in a Nissan Skills Foundation event. However, the company is hoping that number will increase as the new family car begins rolling off the production line.

Nissan Skills Foundation Sunderland

“Sunderland Plant is built on 35 years of manufacturing excellence, and from the skills and expertise of our world-class team comes a car for the future,” said Alan Johnson, Nissan’s vice-president for manufacturing in the UK. “We know it has been a tough year for young people, so we’re using the launch of this next-generation car to step up our efforts to inspire the next-generation of manufacturing talent. We want every child in the north-east of England to have the opportunity to be inspired by the Nissan Skills Foundation.”

The Qashqai, which is now entering its third generation, was designed and engineered in the UK before entering production in Sunderland. Nissan developed the car across its UK sites at Paddington, London; Maple Cross, Hertfordshire, and Cranfield, in Bedfordshire, as well as Lutterworth, in Leicestershire, and the Wearside factory.

“Qashqai is a huge part of not just the heritage of our plant, but of the entire UK car industry,” said Johnson. “It pioneered the crossover segment, and each new model has increased its popularity with our customers.

“More than 3.5 million customers have chosen a Qashqai made in Sunderland since it went on sale in 2007, and the third-generation model delivers the new levels of technology, design and performance that people have come to expect from the original crossover. I am confident that the third generation, made with pride by the team here in Sunderland, will continue that success story.”

The new Qashqai is already available to order with prices starting at just over £23,500.

Gallery: Nissan Skills Foundation