Middlesbrough College provides work for former SSI staff

Middlesbrough College provides work for former SSI staff

As well as helping run the SSI Task Force, Middlesbrough College has gone a step further and added three former steelworkers to its payroll.

The college has appointed Chris Burnett and Simon Robinson as lecturers while Mark Smith has been appointed mechanical workshop technician.

Burnett, 46, is lecturing in electrical, electronics and process, while Robinson, 48, is leading classes in mechanical and manufacturing.

Burnett was an engineering manager at SSI before the axe fell in October – he had previously been employed by Tata, Corus and British Steel and began his career as an apprentice straight out of school.

The dad-of-two said: “The skills we learned, the qualifications we gained and the personal development opportunities at British Steel meant the workforce gained a reputation for producing the best steel in the world.

“Sadly that’s all come to an end and the fallout from the closure will go on for some time but finding new jobs so quickly means the three of us count ourselves very lucky.

“Teaching wasn’t something we’d really considered at this stage in our careers but we see it as an opportunity to give something back and our experience will help us to train young engineers of the future.”

The three - all family men - will study for teaching qualifications alongside their new roles.

Zoe Lewis, Middlesbrough College principal and chief executive, added: “We’re delighted to welcome Chris, Simon and Mark to the team, their vast experience of industry is priceless.

“It’s great that we were in a position to offer jobs to some of those who lost theirs when the steelworks closed and we are doing all we can to help other SSI and supply chain workers get back into work.”

The college received £1.2m – the largest amount awarded to any training provider - to offer a range of specialist industrial training courses for former SSI workers and contractors.

Training is offered free of charge to those who can show they have been directly affected by the recent events in the steel industry.