More than 1,800 new jobs are one of the legacies of the SSI Task Force, which was set up after the collapse of the former Redcar steelworks two-and-a-half years ago.
The SSI Task Force has published a legacy report and announced plans to continue to invest in entrepreneurship, business growth, training and communities.
Highlights of the legacy report include:
• 2,167 of the 2,185 SSI and other workers who made an initial claim for benefits have since ended that claim.
• Over 1,800 new jobs have been created
• 420 jobs have been safeguarded
• 51 former SSI Apprentices have been found training or employment
• Nearly 320 new businesses have been started.
• Over £9m has been invested into over 23,000 training courses
The report published today (January 18) summarises progress across the range of assistance delivered, how the government funding made available to the task force has been invested to date, and priorities for continued investment.
Amanda Skelton, chair of the SSI Task Force and chief executive of Redcar and Cleveland Council, said: “In the two years since the devastating closure of SSI the work of the task force has continued to help people move back into work, train for new careers and start new businesses.
“We are standing on the brink of a new era for the Tees Valley economy as we work toward the delivery of 20,000 new jobs through the South Tees Development Corporation Masterplan.
“We do not underestimate that there is still much to be done to help people survive and thrive following redundancy and prepare for new opportunities ahead.
“Our focus is now on creating a long-term sustainable economy with better, well paid jobs and prospects for everyone.
“We want to build on the success of the business start-up scheme, which has already seen over 315 people take the brave step of starting a new venture, by widening this opportunity to others across the Tees Valley encouraging that entrepreneurial spirit across the whole area.
“Our investments will also make sure we have the right business premises and support in place to help people to succeed and prosper.
“Many who lost their jobs have since found work but they are not yet earning salaries at the same level, which affects both their family life and our local economy.
“Over £9m has already been spent on training but we are committed to continued investment in this area to support former SSI and supply chain workers to grow and develop their long-term career prospects to find better jobs, even if they are already in employment.
“With more redundancies coming for local people it is crucial that we continue to provide help and support where it is needed. We are currently discussing with the Government what help the Task Force could offer to those affected at Boulby.”
One former steelworker who says his life has been “transformed” thanks to help from the SSI Task Force, is Ray Robinson.
“It was a horrible, horrible time when they closed,” said Ray, who worked at the Redcar coke ovens
“I had a one-year-old little girl and I didn’t know what to do. I found work dealing with asbestos to get through the first Christmas but I knew I had to find something else.”
Mr Robinson applied for SSI Task Force funding for courses to service and repair wind turbines. He now has qualifications in paint inspection, blade inspection and repair and turbine servicing.
Those qualifications have led to him finding work in the USA, Lapland and Finland.
He said: “I can’t thank everyone who has helped me enough. I got a chance to aim high and I just thought it was worth taking that gamble.
“The Task Force funding was a real godsend and it’s transformed my life. I just couldn’t have done it without them. I’m so grateful.”
Priorities for the remaining SSI Task Force fund include:
• Expanding the business start-up support beyond former SSI workers and continuing the Capital Grant Scheme for existing Tees Valley businesses to encourage entrepreneurship, create quality permanent jobs and build a stronger private sector business base.
• Continuing to provide training for former SSI and supply chain workers to help with career progression to better jobs with higher salaries and improved long-term prospects.
• Investing in premises to support the creation of jobs in the South Tees area including improving Redcar Town Centre and sites in Middlesbrough to create new business space.
• Helping people build a more stable and secure financial future by establishing a South Tees wide community bank to enable access to affordable credit, banking and savings.
• Protecting our Steel Heritage to ensure that all elements of the steel works are not lost from the area.