A former SSI worker got more than he bargained for when he signed up for a short course at NETA.
There to pick up a recognised qualification in his trade, welder Dave Stephenson also walked away with a much needed job offer.
Now the 59-year-old from Acklam can be found helping apprentices learn the ropes at the Stockton-based training provider.
He is also on hand to assist those undergoing training at NETA, including the hundreds of ex-SSI workers passing through the doors.
“I could never have imagined this in a million years,” said Dave who has been working behind a welding screen for the last 43 years.
Among the 2000 workers to be laid off when SSI was mothballed last October the dad-of-three said the closure came as a bitter blow.
As a subcontractor he is no stranger to the ups and downs of the industry but he said: “When a place of that size shuts down the competition for jobs is massive.
“You are applying for jobs but so are 100 other welders.”
Needing the paperwork to back up his years of experience Dave, who had spent the last three years working at the SSI BOS plant, turned to NETA.
He said: “For years when you went for a job you would go and do a test but in this day and age you need a certificate. I was sending lots of CVs off but not getting many replies.”
He added: “For workers like me NETA has been fantastic.”
Working together NETA and Stockton Riverside College is delivering a range of industry-led qualifications funded through its share of a dedicated £3m retraining package, available to SSI workers and those working in the supply chain.
So far NETA and Stockton Riverside College has enrolled 1155 workers directly affected by the SSI closure on to training courses, with 935 having already started or completed and a further 116 due to start.
For welder Dave, NETA delivered even more than expected with a job offer alongside his pipe welding certificate.
“I am elated to have been given this opportunity,” he said. “I’m really enjoying it.”
Working with up and coming talent he is able to pass on his skills and being in a totally new environment, surrounded by instructors from a variety of specialist trades, he said he is learning everyday too.
Those directly affected by the SSI closure who want more information about the courses available at NETA and Stockton Riverside College can call the college’s SSI helpline on 01642 865 568.