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Ex-Army Engineer Is Latest To Benefit From Teesworks Skills Academy

Nine people – including an ex-army engineer – are celebrating after securing new roles at Teesworks, the UK’s largest freeport, thanks to the help of the Teesworks Skills Academy.

The new starters have been appointed to local firm Thompsons, after taking part in a Routeway to Demolition course delivered through the academy in partnership with Redcar & Cleveland College. Thompsons is currently working to clear many areas of the site including the Redcar Blast Furnace and adjacent Stock Houses and the BOS Plant.

Damien Jones, who had a 14-year career working heavy machinery in the military, before taking voluntary redundancy, was one of those who benefitted from the training. After an introduction to the Teesworks Skills Academy from Job Centre Plus, the 38-year-old, from Middlesbrough, wasn’t out of work for long.

After identifying a number of transferable skills from previous roles, Damien enrolled onto the course at Redcar & Cleveland College, in order to get the certification he needed to work on the Teesworks site.

He has also been joined by Michael Scarth, 55, whose 20-year railway career ended during the coronavirus pandemic, and Adam Peacock, 33, who previously worked as a docker but wanted more stability in his career.

Since its launch by Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen in December 2020, more than 1,530 people have registered CVs and the Academy has trained more than 500 people leading to employment for 350 of those.

Damien said: “From start to finish the Teesworks Skills Academy has helped me every step of the way. If I had any issues, they were on the other end of the phone ready to help. I’m now looking at further upskilling to be able to work on other machinery on the site. After completing my course, I was hired by Thompsons as a Demolition Operative and I am really pleased.”

Last year, Mayor Houchen launched the Guaranteed Interview Scheme for Veterans for Teesworks, ensuring they are given an interview for any roles on the site, provided they meet the relevant criteria for the post and are within 12 weeks of their discharge date or have the armed forces as their last long-term employer.

He said: “Day after day, we’re seeing more and more people sign up to the Teesworks Skills Academy, gain the expertise they need and land a role with one of the brilliant local companies helping to transform the Teesworks site so we can create the jobs of the future.

“Just a week after Remembrance Day, it’s fantastic to hear of Damien’s progress and that he has found training and work right here in his home region, alongside his eight new colleagues, including Michael and Adam.

“As we took a moment last week to thank those who gave their lives for our freedom, we can’t forget the heroes who have returned to civilian life. We should be doing all we can to help them back into well-paid, good-quality jobs and that’s why I want to remind people of the site’s Guaranteed Interview Scheme for Veterans.

“Thanks to this, and the continued work of everyone at the Skills Academy, we can make sure no one is left behind in accessing the great opportunities that are being created right here, right now.”

Graeme Wood, Teesworks Skills Academy Manager, said: “The Teesworks Skills Academy continues to connect local people with the skills they need to be able to secure employment in local jobs – which is what it set out to do. The positive outcomes for people like Damien, Michael and Adam only serves as a driver for the academy partners to do more to support other individuals in the same way.”

Sandra Lee, training coordinator, Thompson’s of Prudhoe, said: “Thompsons of Prudhoe know the difficulties for the unemployed to gain employment, especially within our industry, and we were very delighted to become a linked employer with the Teesworks Skills Academy, through Redcar & Cleveland College.  This has been a fantastic success in terms of placing nine unemployed local people back into employment, as well as enabling the utilisation of their transferable skills from previous employments. We firmly believe we would not have found these new employees without working with the Teesworks Skills Academy.”

Since it launched, Teesworks Skills Academy – a partnership between Darlington College, Hartlepool College of Further Education, Learning Curve Group, Middlesbrough College, Redcar and Cleveland College, Stockton Riverside College and Teesside University, supported by the Redcar & Cleveland Hub – has worked with more than 80 companies across the region.

A recent survey conducted by the Teesworks Skills Academy, to monitor employer satisfaction with service provision, found that all businesses surveyed were really happy with the service received and would recommend the Skills Academy to others for training and/or recruitment needs in the future.

To find out more please visit Teesworks Skills Academy