Drive aims to encourage next generation of process workers

RECRUITMENT of such large numbers of people into the sector is not going to be easy, this is why, through NEPIC, a number of companies have collaborated to make an eight-minute DVD film of the industry and the region.

RECRUITMENT of such large numbers of people into the sector is not going to be easy, this is why, through NEPIC, a number of companies have collaborated to make an eight-minute DVD film of the industry and the region. It includes interviews with young people working in the sector and is currently being distributed to all UK university careers departments, all North-East secondary schools and colleges. The film can also be viewed alongside the vocational film on the NEPIC website at www.nepic.co.uk

The type of work available in the sector is extremely wide-ranging, as the adjacent list shows, but sometimes there is little information about these careers for those wishing to follow up on the details.

Some career paths are demonstrated on the NEPIC website, that of COGENT the sector skills council (www.cogent-ssc.com) and via the North-East Aspire campaign at www.northeastreallydelivers.co.uk

But there is still more to be done.

NEPIC will, over the coming months, encourage companies to give more job profiles to the Aspire campaign and also make them available through its own website.

Earlier this year, the Evening Gazette in Middlesbrough, launched its Pride In Our Process Industry campaign, to throw the spotlight on the essential sector in the Tees Valley. Highlighting careers, training and investment in the industry, NEPIC was quick to support the campaign.

It is vital that our region's young people gain the qualifications they need to enable them to get into the process industry sector.

Following the recent announcement of the 2007 GCSE results, the Chemical Industries Association chief executive, Steve Elliott, congratulated students for their achievements.

He also welcomed the increase in students entered for science subjects, including chemistry, but warned that industry was facing a significant shortage of skilled employees and urged government to work with industry to provide vocational training for school leavers.

He went on to say: “There is a perception that the chemical industry is only interested in chemistry graduates and engineers. Today's reality is very different and we need a broad range of specialist skills to maintain and modernise plants and provide other technical support.”

In recognition of this problem, industry has been working with COGENT, the Sector Skills Council, on a bid for a National Skills Academy for the Process Industries (NSAPI).

The Academy will be an employer-led centre of excellence – currently backed by more than £1m of company pledges – to tackle the skills shortage within the sector.

Mr Elliot went on to urge government to give the academy its full backing when it makes its decision this month.

If the National Skills Academy bid is successful, the indications are that the head office of NSAPI will be in the North-East.

The academy will focus on employer-endorsed vocational learning with links into higher education and will consider the skills needs of both the existing and the future workforce. It will serve companies in chemicals, pharmaceuticals and polymers which combined have a turnover in the UK of £67.1bn and a Gross Value Added (GVA) in excess of £23bn, which is more than 15% of total UK manufacturing GVA.

For further information about careers or the process industry, go to www.nepic.co.uk.

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