A special six-month training scheme designed to help young people not in employment, education or training secure an apprenticeship in the process industries is underway.
Middlesbrough College has been chosen to deliver the Pre-Apprenticeship element of the Sembcorp Skills Development Programme (SSDP), launched by UK Business Secretary Dr Vince Cable in May.
The first group of 12 young learners to embark on the Pre-Apprenticeship training was welcomed to the college by Mike Hopkins, its Principal and Chief Executive. Mr Hopkins was joined by George Ritchie, Senior Vice President for HR at Sembcorp and Philip Jones, Chief Executive of the project’s delivery body - the National Skills Academy for the Process Industries (NSAPI).
A total of 110 young people aged 16-18 not currently in employment, education or training are being recruited onto the Pre-Apprenticeship over the next few months. The aim is to get them to a standard where they can compete on level skills terms with others for 100 SSDP Advanced Apprenticeships which start early in the New Year.
Sembcorp led the bid for £3.4 million of public funding made available through the Government’s Employer Ownership of Skills Pilot (EOP) on behalf of some of the biggest names in process industry manufacturing including companies in the chemical, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, energy, engineering and biotechnology sectors.
The SSDP Advanced Apprenticeship, which lasts three years, is also supported by a growing number of smaller firms in the supply chains of the process industry companies attracted by the ability to access a wider, more flexible range of quality training. A separate element of the programme will also enable 100 graduates in the area to become more work-ready and therefore employable.
Welcoming the first Pre-Apprenticeship group to the college, Mr Ritchie said: “This is a landmark moment for employers because under this Government-backed initiative, for the first time, the investment in skills is employer-owned and outcome-driven ensuring we have the pipeline of talent that we need to succeed.
“It’s a landmark moment too for these young people as they embark on what will hopefully lead to long and successful careers in the process industries.”
Philip Jones, said: “Everyone at the National Skills Academy is delighted that this first phase of the SSDP initiative is now underway and the selection of Middlesbrough College to deliver the Pre-Apprenticeship component is well deserved”.
Mike Hopkins, said: “This partnership is validation of the excellent training we deliver at Middlesbrough College.
“It’s widely accepted that highly skilled apprentices deliver real business benefits for employers and the skills taught at Middlesbrough College are of consistently high quality, whether students are full time learners, part time learners, or apprentices.
“It’s all about jobs and this clearly shows that we are providing the high quality skills that students and apprentices need to get ahead in the jobs race.”
Stephen Catchpole of Tees Valley Unlimited, the Local Enterprise Partnership, another key partner in the project, said: “Tees Valley needs a talented pool of work-ready, confident young people with the ability to make a meaningful contribution to the area if we are to further progress our industrial base.
“We are incredibly fortunate that this local partnership of education providers, skills agencies and the private sector is coming together to equip our future workforce with the practical experience and theoretical knowledge for the best possible start to their careers.”
Dr Stan Higgins of NEPIC, the umbrella body representing more than 500 firms in the process industries throughout the north east, said: “As an industry which is now dominated by smaller more focused businesses and SMEs, it is only through collaborative initiatives such as this that we can hope to meet the future skills needs of the sector and its supply chain.
“It is fantastic news also that we have found a way of helping our local communities by offering opportunities to young people who are not in employment, education or training and who may not have initially had the qualifications to gain an apprenticeship”.
Employers already signed up to support SSDP include: Wilton-based Sembcorp, Lotte Chemical UK, SABIC UK Petrochemicals, Huntsman Polyurethanes and CPI along with Chemoxy International in Middlesbrough, Lucite International and Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies at Billingham, Aesica Pharmaceuticals in Cramlington, High Force Research in Durham, Fine Organics and Epax Pharma at Seal Sands and Exwold Technology and Huntsman Tioxide at Greatham, near Hartlepool.
Employers looking to support the scheme and potential SSDP applicants can find out more at: