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This month seven new college and school leavers (pictured) embarked on their first step towards a career in the chemical industry with an apprenticeship at Lucite International (LI)’s Cassel site in the North East of England.

LI is committed to providing opportunities to school leavers who are interested in taking up an apprenticeship in a variety of engineering, scientific and commercial disciplines within the company. LI offers apprenticeships for Young Scientist, Production, Electrical and Instrument Technicians, which provide comprehensive training as well as work-based placements on a number of LI sites and the opportunity for a permanent role at LI on completion. We spoke with three apprentices at different stages of their careers to find out what had attracted them to the LI Apprenticeship Programme and their experiences so far.

Natasha Connor has just started her second year of a two-year Young Scientist Programme delivered by local training provider, Teesside Training Enterprise (TTE). As part of the programme, Natasha spends four days a week in the laboratory of the Cassel site and one day a week studying at Teesside University for a degree in Chemistry. Natasha first came to Cassel on a week-long work placement from her secondary school and enjoyed the work in the laboratory so much that she decided to apply for the Young Scientist Programme. Natasha explains more:

“I was initially attracted by the structure of the programme. There is a lot of emphasis on how a degree alone can no longer secure a job as experience is required by most employers. The opportunity to attend university while working was a huge bonus for me.

“One of the best things about working at LI is the constant support I receive from the employees who work at Cassel. The job is enjoyable and interesting and I am able to improve my knowledge on different analysis techniques by observing and learning from a group of people. In addition to this, working for a global company allows me to gain insight into the market and production on a large scale; I can gain knowledge I would not have been able to if I had attended university full time.

“I believe, the apprenticeship is a brilliant opportunity for those who don’t wish to study full time but still want to obtain qualifications, or a degree.”

Dean Blakemore is in his fourth and final year of the Tees Valley Production Technician Apprenticeship also through TTE. He is a member of the Shift Production Team on the Monomer 8 and SAR (Sulphuric Acid Recovery) plants and attends college on a weekly basis to study for his Higher National Certificate in Chemical Engineering. He has gained significantly more responsibility since he first started the course and part of his role now includes conducting regular four-hourly inspections to ensure the plants are in constant steady operation. Dean explains a bit more about his apprenticeship and course:

“I really enjoy having the responsibility to work independently for such an established global company. I get pleasure from working in a team to tackle and solve problems and I am also discovering new techniques and gaining knowledge from people who have years of experience within the industry.

“We have received a lot of help from LI and the TTE staff throughout the apprenticeship and it has been a really fun and challenging part of my education. LI has sponsored my course at university which has saved me from getting a loan and it has given me lots of motivation to do well not only on my course but at LI too.

“I feel the apprenticeship has kick-started my career and I would recommend the apprenticeship to anyone as it is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Josh Hornby has recently completed a three year Chemical Technician Advanced Apprenticeship and has been sponsored by LI throughout. He was one of six apprentices to have gained employment as Production Technician with the company this summer. Having started his new role working on the Monomer 7 plant on 1st August this year Josh looks back at his experience as an apprentice:

“I really enjoyed my time as an apprentice, I learnt so many new skills which have benefitted me greatly and I gained an NVQ at the same time. The team I worked with were extremely helpful and friendly, Lucite International is really a great place to work.

I would recommend this programme to anybody, I feel it has been a better route for me than going to college and there are plenty of benefits of working with such an established global company.”

Melanie Jury, Site Director at Cassel comments,

“We are privileged to have a committed and long serving workforce at the Cassel Site and are proud to continue to support, employ and train new talent in our organisation.”

If these apprentices have inspired you to consider an apprenticeship with LI, then find out more about ‘Ways to Join’ here.