Friday, September 14, 2018

News: Steelworkers forge bond with apprentices

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18 youngsters began their steel industry training in South yorkshire recently with a warm welcome from some of the 14 veterans who started their own steel careers on the same day 40 years ago.

The new apprentices reported to Liberty Speciality Steels' training centre at Stocksbridge for the start of a three-year learning journey towards becoming qualified technicians in the flagship industry.

They are among the latest intake of 31 young people - including 11 graduate trainees - who will join a new generation of workers for the steel sector at Liberty's Rotherham and Stockbridge works and related steel service centres in Bolton and Wednesbury.

Waiting to meet them this week were section engineer, Carl Firth, mechanical services manager, John Littlewood, and production manager, Paul Kendrick, who are among 14 Liberty Speciality Steels workers who started together as apprentices on the same day in 1978 and have now clocked up a collective total of 560 years in the industry. All are now managers and engineering supervisors, forming the backbone of the skilled workforce at Speciality Steels.

John Littlewood production manager at Liberty Speciality Steels, said: "We've seen a lot of changes in the industry over four decades and there are far fewer people working in steel now than when we joined, but there are still great careers for young people in the sector.

"Over the past few months we interviewed numerous candidates and selected this group to have the same opportunity we had many years ago to develop high-level engineering skills in a dedicated training facility. We're looking forward to passing on our knowledge and experience; coaching and guiding them to achieve their full potential and forge a successful career in steel like we've had."

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Mick Hood, HR director at Liberty Speciality Steels, added: "It's not often that we see so many people who started work together on the same day still working for the company 40 years later. It's a great achievement to think that, between them, they have contributed more than five centuries of service to the business and all progressed to senior and highly-responsible positions.

"It's also encouraging to think how much knowledge and experience they have to pass on to the young people starting their apprenticeships this week. We can only hope that the new joiners will enjoy that same rewarding careers as these steel stalwarts."

Of the new starters, seven are doing electrical engineering apprenticeships, five mechanical engineering, four technical engineering and the others will pursue IT and sales and marketing roles.

Most will spend a year at the state-of-the-art training centre which Liberty runs with Sheffield College at the company's Stocksbridge works, followed by two years on attachment to different departments and then a more focused period in areas of the business where the apprentices might want to work longer term once their training is complete.

Liberty Speciality Steels has again been named as a regional employer of the year finalist for Yorkshire and the Humber at the National Apprenticeship Awards. A regional finalist last year, Speciality Steels won the large employer award in 2014 and were runners up in 2013 and 2012.

Liberty website

Images: Liberty

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