In addition to working with a wide range of partners as part of the SSI Task Force, Middlesbrough College has gone a step further and put three former steelworkers on the payroll.
Chris Burnett (above, left) and Simon Robinson have taken up lecturing posts while Mark Smith (right) has been appointed mechanical workshop technician.
Chris, 46, is lecturing in electrical, electronics and process, while Simon, 48, is leading classes in mechanical and manufacturing.
The three men have more than 90 years’ experience of life in the steelworks and their knowledge and experience will be an asset to the college’s Engineering team.
The college delivers world class training in science, technology, engineering and maths and in addition to practical skills and theory, students must also demonstrate the professional behaviours expected on any industrial site.
Chris was an Engineering Manager at SSI before the axe fell in October – he had previously been employed by Tata, Corus and British Steel and began his career as an apprentice straight out of school.
The dad-of-two said: “The skills we learned, the qualifications we gained and the personal development opportunities at British Steel meant the workforce gained a reputation for producing the best steel in the world.
“Sadly that’s all come to an end and the fallout from the closure will go on for some time but finding new jobs so quickly means the three of us count ourselves very lucky.
“Teaching wasn’t something we’d really considered at this stage in our careers but we see it as an opportunity to give something back and our experience will help us to train young engineers of the future.
“The training and the industrial equipment here is cutting edge and the ethos is spot on.
“As well as teaching theory and practical skills students’ employability is increased tenfold as they are expected to demonstrate professional behaviours including adhering to health and safety protocols – it’s what will help them get jobs when they complete their courses.”
The three – all family men – will study for teaching qualifications alongside their new roles.
Zoe Lewis, Middlesbrough College principal and chief executive, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Chris, Simon and Mark to the team, their vast experience of industry is priceless.
“It’s great that we were in a position to offer jobs to some of those who lost theirs when the steelworks closed and we are doing all we can to help other SSI and supply chain workers get back into work.”
The college received £1.2m – the largest amount awarded to any training provider – to offer a range of specialist industrial training courses for former SSI workers and contractors.
Training is offered free of charge to those who can show they have been directly affected by the recent events in the steel industry.
Ms Lewis added: “With help from the college team and the hundreds of companies we work with, we can match the right candidates to the right job opportunities and provide tailor-made training if necessary.”
Courses include the key qualifications required within the process, engineering, manufacturing and supply chain industry and are aimed at those former SSI workers and contractors in the supply chain who want to upskill or retrain.
Ms Lewis recently wrote to the hundreds of companies already working with the college to alert them to the Tees Valley Business Support Schemes which are available through the SSI Task Force.
The schemes offer a range of financial support to businesses affected by the closure of SSI or are based on the Tees Valley and are looking to grow.
They include the SSI Task Force Jobs and Skills Fund – a wage subsidy scheme to enable businesses in Tees Valley and the surrounding area to create new job opportunities and employ people affected by the SSI closure.
Administered by Tees Valley Unlimited (TVU), the scheme subsidises the cost of employment for positions made available for a minimum of three years with a payment of 50% of the basic salary costs for each new job created in the first two years of employment up to a maximum of £11,000 per employee.
• Employers wanting to find out more about the help available at Middlesbrough College should email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01642 333322.