Upskilling local talent opens a mine of opportunity

Posted: 18-04-2019 - 128 views

NETA Training has been playing its part in exciting plans to bring jobs for unemployed people from Redcar and East Cleveland.

The Stockton-based engineering training provider was drafted in to deliver bespoke skills to 20 new recruits employed to start work on the Sirius Minerals’ tunnel.

NETA Training’s engineering co-ordinator Iain Taylor said: “It’s great to be able to play our part in helping to get unemployed people back into work, supporting our local companies and also the community.”

Pics courtesy of Sirius Minerals

The new recruits are among some of the first to start work on the production line at a Wilton factory, operated by Sirius’s tunnelling contactor Strabag.

Employed by sub-contractor CB Construction, the team are helping to manufacture the reinforcing bar cages for the tunnel lining.

Keen to bring job opportunities to the area, contractor CB Construction’s managing director Gary Sivills said: “Working with the East Cleveland Training & Employment Hub and NETA, we thought this was a great way of getting people back into work.

“We knew with the right training the job they were going to be undertaking could be learnt within a short space of time. We have got a variation of people. Many are grateful to have been given the opportunity. There was nothing else like this in the area.

“At the moment the full focus of the site is on the job we are doing, without it the full production line stops. You can see the team are up for the challenge.”

The workers were identified by Job Centre Plus and given testing and bespoke training for the specific demands of the job by NETA. The project was funded by Redcar & Cleveland Council and Job Centre Plus.

Iain said: “The experience levels of the recruits varied massively, with everything from an experienced welder to those who haven’t seen a welding set in their life.

“Each recruit carried out a feasibility assessment to ascertain their current experience and skill level, they were then trained and qualified to the welding standard BS EN ISO 9606-1 for carbon steel fillet welding using the MAG process.”

Among the new recruits was Mick Smith, 65, of Redcar. A welder with 49 years of experience, he said: “It is a great opportunity for the lads who have not had a chance of getting an apprenticeship in this trade.

“It is giving them a chance to learn a bit about it and they are doing really well.

“Employment in this area has been decimated recently, this is a chance to give local people a chance. It is a project that is going to enhance the area.

“The lads have been taught the basics of how to do the job at NETA. While they are not going to be apprenticeship trained and time served welders at the end of this, they will learn other things on the job, such as a bit of engineering, reading drawings and innovation as people share ideas and ways of doing things.

“It may spark an interest for them to learn more and they will be better people for it.”

Filled with pre-cast concrete the reinforcing bar cages will fit together to create rings that will line the 23-mile underground tunnel which will run from Whitby to Teesside and serve Sirius Minerals’ polyhalite mine.