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Former SSI worker forges new career

A steel worker laid off when the SSI steelworks collapsed is forging a new career putting his specialist skills to work helping other manufacturing companies.
Steve Potter feared he would have to move to another part of the country in search of a new job after the Redcar blast furnace closed last October.

Although he was retained by the liquidator for three months to help decommission the giant plant, Steve’s chances of finding a new job looked bleak.

Nearly 2,000 steelworkers were made redundant when SSI collapsed and hundreds more workers in the supply chain were laid off.

Steve, 47, confessed: “After 30 years working in the steel industry I thought there was no chance of getting another job on Teesside.

“I had all the skills, but there was no work. My options were limited: either retrain and start all over again, or uproot my family and move to another part of the country to find a job which suited my skills.”

Steve, who lives in Normanby, had worked for SSI as a specialist asset integrity inspector, checking and maintaining the network of pipes and tanks that criss-crossed the 98-year-old Redcar works.

Luckily for him, those skills proved to be just what Stockton-based company Axiom Engineering Associates was looking for.

Axiom is one of the world’s leading failure analysis, preventative maintenance and inspection companies. Its engineers work with firms in the petro-chemical, automotive, storage and pharmaceuticals industries all over the world.

Dr Rene Hoyle, who founded Axiom with fellow engineer Adam Potter in 2003, explained: “We were looking for a new inspector around the time SSI was closing. Steve fitted the bill perfectly. He had the right experience and the right attitude to become part of Axiom.”

With funding received through the SSI Task Force for both training and wage subsidy Axiom is organising for Steve to retrain to internationally-recognised standards through the PCN certification scheme.

And he is determined to repay Axiom’s faith in his abilities.

“Although I’ve only been here a short time I’ve settled in really well,” he said. “It’s a fantastic company to work for and everyone has been extremely welcoming.

“After such a disappointing conclusion to my steel industry career I feel as though I’ve really landed on my feet. This is a new beginning.

“I couldn’t have wished for a better job and I hope I’ll be working at Axiom for a very long time.”