From Cab to Shore: New Futures Pilot Reaps Rewards

Work | Published on: 10th November 2023

A former taxi driver and construction worker has taken on a new career on the docks with the help of a pilot programme.

Led by Learning and Work Institute, funded by the Covid-19 Support Fund and delivered by Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, the Tees Valley New Futures scheme has helped over 100 residents aged 30 and up to retrain, reskill, and find sustainable, meaningful work with better future prospects.

Hartlepool’s Andrew Phillips, 54, has taken on many jobs during his working life.

Now he is plying his trade on the banks of the Tees after seeking out another line of work following 15 years in construction.

Andrew now helps shipping parts for Offshore Turbines at the Dogger Bank Wind Farm project.

And it was the New Futures Project which helped give him the leg up he needed.

“I got the job opportunity and jumped into it with both feet – but I didn’t have any PPE, or anything like that,” he said.

“It’s the PPE, the guidance and so on – it helped to let me know ‘I can do it’, because you do get negative thoughts from time to time.”

The pilot has been developed to support employed and unemployed Tees Valley residents over the age of 30 to retrain, reskill and change career

It was launched to help those whose jobs were initially hit by the covid pandemic – and fill skill demands in the region’s labour market, working alongside employers and academies.

Teams support and steer people with quality careers advice, coaching, contacts, and short courses delivered both face-to-face and online.

The pilot was recently extended to last until the end of this year.

Andrew added: “My background was in construction, so it was a bit of a change. It shows if you want to change, then you can.

“I’ve been a Jack of all trades and a master of none – I was a taxi driver for 20 years. I’ve been a bin man, a milk man – I’ve tried all sorts over the years.

“I was in construction for the last 15 years but the groundworks just got a bit too much for me – it’s a strain on the old back.

“Now I am enjoying work – I’m loving it.”

The Tees Valley Combined Authority is responsible for the Adult Education Budget of more than £30million in the region.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Ensuring our next generations have the skills to take on the thousands of new jobs coming to Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool is a vitally important part of our long-term plans.

“But the New Futures Pilot has really shown its worth in getting those further on in their working life a fresh chance to learn and adapt their existing strengths and skills to another line of work.

“Andrew is another example of someone taking on a new career in an industry where we’re leading the charge – and I’m delighted the pilot is doing exactly what it set out to do.”

Stephen Evans, CEO of Learning and Work Institute, said: “It’s great to see the difference New Futures in Tees Valley has made in helping to retrain and prepare people for new careers. Our partnership with Tees Valley Combined Authority has allowed us to test what works to support career change at a local level.

“Longer working lives and an aging population means the need for retraining is only going to grow as 50-year careers increasingly become the norm. We hope that New
Futures can help to inform future policy development and practice in helping people to make the most of the opportunities ahead.”

Cllr Alec Brown, Leader of Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, said: “This initiative is fantastic and has seen more than 100 people across the Tees Valley start new careers, just like Andrew.

“Our career coaches have helped facilitate one to one support and given valuable information, advice, and guidance. The coaches have hosted job clubs, and identified people’s transferrable skills, and got the training and support people needed to facilitate their career move. We are so pleased this programme has been such a success.”

To find out more, go to: Tees Valley New Futures – Work (

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