It’s fair to say that Kelvin Whitwell has had a difficult few months.
The former SSI engineer lost his job when the Redcar steelmaking plant shut down last autumn, then he thought he’d been overlooked for a fitter’s job at North Yorkshire Moors Railway after being told he was over-qualified for the role.
But the story had a happy ending for the 39-year-old, who ended up landing the role of project planning engineer at the railway – a new job with more responsibility and a better salary!
It’s a dream come true for Kelvin from Saltburn-by-the-Sea, who has been a railway enthusiast since childhood.
In his new role he will be responsible for the project management of long-term overhauls of steam and diesel locomotives, as well as projects such as water treatment and the development of new ideas for productivity and efficiency at the railway, which carries around 350,000 passengers each year between Pickering and Whitby through the National Park.
Kelvin is one of several former SSI workers who have found employment after retraining at Redcar and Cleveland College for a different career.
Having successfully completed an online Safe Supervisor course, delivered at the college by Middlesbrough-based mylearnadfriend, Kelvin is now on track to finish his Level 3 National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety (NEBOSH), a globally recognised health and safety qualification held by more than 100,000 people worldwide.
Former SSI workers Paul Welford, Robert Hardy and Jason Reid have also completed the online health and safety courses and subsequently found employment with Komatsu, Vantec and Spartan UK respectively.
All three have recommended these courses to other former SSI workers looking to retrain for a different career.
Kelvin said: “With the Safe Supervisor course being online, I was able to relax and complete it in my own time, at home.
“I wanted to put the qualification on my CV in time for my interview so it was ideal as I didn’t have to wait for it.
“I was able to push myself and gain the certificate prior to the interview which was important because I was asked about health and safety. It has also helped me with my NEBOSH studies.
“Getting the qualification has given me the knowledge to apply safe working practices and management techniques in this sector – and it undoubtedly helped me to get the job at the railway.”
Eddie Knorn, head of traction and rolling stock, at North Yorkshire Moors Railway, said “Kelvin has brought with him a mix of engineering knowledge, organisational skills and enthusiasm. I look forward to working with him and utilising his expertise at the Motive Power Depot.”
Tony Abbott, managing director of mylearnadfriend and a visiting lecturer at Redcar & Cleveland College, added: “It’s great to see so many former SSI workers signing up for our online safety courses, which equip people with the knowledge and skills to go on and complete the NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety.”