Thursday, March 8, 2018

News: Apprentices are at Liberty to succeed

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20 places are available at Liberty Speciality Steels and two former apprentices from Rotherham who have forged top careers in the steel industry are urging school-leavers in the area to grasp the opportunity to earn while they learn.

Liberty formally completed a £100m deal to acquire the Speciality Steels division of Tata Steel UK last year. It is undertaking a multi-million-pound investment by the Liberty House Group – a member of the GFG Alliance - that is creating 300 new jobs at Rotherham and its sister plant in Stocksbridge.

This week is National Apprenticeship Week and Ryan Stancill and Cathy Bell from Liberty Speciality Steels have called upon youngsters to seriously consider an apprenticeship as the way to kick start a successful career.

Ryan, 27, from Dinnington, originally opted to train in mechanical engineering because of his passion for motor sports and now looks after the huge furnaces and the raw materials department at Rotherham, while Cathy, 46, from Wickersley, who was interested in science at school is now involved at the leading edge of Liberty's drive to develop new products at Stocksbridge. She also leads the team responsible for implementing new business at the company.

Both signed up for steel industry apprenticeships straight from school but once they'd finished their training they were sponsored by their employer to go to university part-time while they continued in their jobs. Both are now in senior roles and say an apprenticeship was exactly the right choice for them.

Liberty is currently seeking to recruit another 20 young people to follow in their footsteps and join this year's apprentice training programme.

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Ryan said: "I always enjoyed hands-on work, so I knew an apprenticeship in engineering would be perfect for me. My interest in motor-racing involved a lot of mechanical work so I thought why not get paid for doing something I enjoy. I really valued the way experienced craftsmen took time to teach me all they knew, and I made some great friends through the programme also."

Ryan, who is now a section engineer responsible for Liberty's huge furnaces and raw materials department at Rotherham, has just started a master's degree and is working to become a chartered Mechanical Engineer with the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.

Cathy has steadily built upon her initial apprenticeship, qualifying as a professional metallurgist and is now a product development manager working on new kinds of steel products or improving existing products.

Cathy said: "It was very daunting at first because I was using very complex equipment and needed to build my confidence, but I became fascinated by the science of metals and wanted to learn more. I have never regretted becoming an apprentice because I achieved something huge in my first few after leaving school."

Both said their steel industry apprenticeship not only offered them a broad array of different career opportunities within the sector itself but gave them an extensive range of core management and problem-solving skills that they could take into any other career path.

Liberty is one of the biggest employers of apprentices in the area and even runs a special training school inside its Stockbridge works in partnership with Sheffield College, where around 25 young apprentices are currently under training.

Tony Goddard, training delivery manager at Liberty Speciality Steels, said: "Apprenticeships are an excellent route for ambitious young people who want to get involved in the workplace straight from school and build their skills in a very practical way. As Ryan and Cathy have shown, becoming an apprentice gives you a real job from day one and sets you on the path to real career success."

Liberty Speciality Steel website

Images: Liberty

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