Sembcorp behind boost for supply chain apprenticeships

By Sembcorp PR Department
12 September 2012
Sembcorp Utilities UK


Sembcorp is spearheading an initiative which is set to see around 100 new apprenticeships created in a UK unemployment blackspot.

A partnership of process industry firms and business organisations on Teesside – led by Sembcorp Utilities UK - has succeeded in a bid for public funding that will help create new opportunities for young people across the area.

The partnership, which includes many of the area’s main process industry firms working alongside key private sector organisations, has gained conditional approval for £3.4 million under the first round of the Government’s new Employer Ownership of Skills Pilot (EOP) initiative.

The money will kick start an innovative pilot project that will benefit supply chain firms and transform the way larger process industry firms engage new workers.

Vince Cable, the Business Secretary in the UK’s Coalition Government, recently announced that the Tees Valley bid, submitted by Sembcorp Utilities UK on behalf of the partnership, was one of 34 employer-led projects across the UK set to share £67 million for the design of new vocational training programmes.

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) cash injection will be matched by the contributions of the process industry firms in the pilot project.

Final agreement will be subject to the successful completion of due diligence and the issuing of a Grant Offer Letter.


George Ritchie, Senior Vice President of Regional HR for Sembcorp Industries and SVP HR for Sembcorp Utilities UK at the Wilton International site, led the consortium in submitting the bid.

He said: “This is fantastic news and a superb boost for apprentice and graduate training in the Tees Valley.

“We are delighted to have been chosen as one of the employer-led projects given the opportunity to design our own innovative framework for a project that reflects the way our industrial partners want their apprentice training delivered.”

The pilot project will involve the National Skills Academy for the Process Industries (NSAPI) organising the training as the consortium’s nominated delivery partner.

As well as Sembcorp, companies behind the project include existing Sembcorp customers such as SABIC UK Petrochemicals, Lotte Chemical UK, Huntsman Polyurethanes, Chemoxy International and Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, plus Aescia Pharmaceuticals, Fine Organics and High Force Research.

Other partners include the North East Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC) to which most of the firms belong, Tees Valley Unlimited (TVU) as the area’s Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the National Apprenticeship Service and a range of local and regional education and training providers.

A key feature of the as yet unnamed pilot project is that it will provide essential support for the training and development of apprentices and graduates in supply chain firms, allowing them to recruit an additional 100 apprentices aged 16-18, develop a pre-apprenticeship programme to enable more young people to have the opportunity of an apprenticeship and implement a readiness to work programme for graduates entering the sector.

The social need to boost employment by such schemes is clear as in the worst areas of the Tees Valley unemployment affects around one in three households.

More than a dozen additional process industry firms in the Tees Valley have also indicated a willingness to be involved once the initiative is up and running.

Mr Ritchie added: “The project will play a significant part in addressing the growing skills shortage in the process industries and increase and improve opportunities for apprentices, young people looking for apprenticeships and graduates throughout the supply chain.”

“At the moment there are a number of barriers that are preventing supply chain companies recruiting apprentices and graduates. We want to gain a better understanding of those barriers with a view to removing them and opening up opportunities for additional recruitment.”

Philip Jones, Chief Executive Officer of NSAPI, said: “I am delighted that NSAPI has been chosen by Sembcorp to be their delivery partner for this exciting EOP pilot project. I am confident it will deliver real change and create more jobs in a region which really needs this boost”

Dr Stan Higgins, Chief Executive Officer of NEPIC, said: “This is fantastic news for the Process Sector across the UK. The demand remains high for technically skilled people across all science and engineering based industries. Congratulations to all the partners for capturing this project – our industry certainly needs it”.

Sue Hannan, Tees Valley Unlimited Employment and Skills Manager, said:“As we look to support the growth and development of Tees Valley based companies it is vital that a skilled Tees Valley workforce is resourced and ready to deliver contracts, react to company need and maintain our strong reputation across the process industry.

“This is a significant step in creating a better future for young people in the area and a stronger economy long term.”





ends

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