Former SSI sub-contractor Dan Wilcox, from Berwick Hills, is one of those who has taken advantage of the financial help and business support available as part of the Business Advice Start Up Fund.
Dan has now launched his own business, Cleveland LGV Training Ltd, and he’s creating jobs for other redundant steel workers. Tapping into two strands of Task Force funding, Dan was able to register the company within a month of losing his job. In addition, his son-in-law, Matthew Switzer, joined the company as a partner investing some of his own money to help get the business up and running.
The pair identified a gap in the market after discovering a three month waiting list for LGV lessons and tests in the North East. Keen to capitalise on what they saw was a niche in the market; they are now attracting interest from companies in Belgium, Holland and Sweden.
The company has also secured a number of contracts with major local employers, including delivering JCB Bomag Ride on Roller training for PD Ports.
Dan, who is operations and training director, is supported by former workers, Dave Thompson, Derek Bailey, and Jim Glew, who will all deliver various LGV training courses including ADR Tuition (Dangerous Goods Training and DCPC (Driver Certificate For Professional Competence) which is a legal requirement for LGV drivers.
Another enterprising former steelworker who used the funding to set up his own business is Andy Baker, from Middlesbrough. Andy applied for the SSI Task Force Business Advice Start Up Fund and set up Velocity Sports Coaching.
He said: “It was brilliant, it was very easy and I felt very supported by my mentor who helped me to develop my business plan. From submitting the plan to receiving the grant it only took a week. I was amazed at how quickly it all worked. I’d certainly recommend the scheme to anyone it was first class.”
Meanwhile more than 200 of those affected by the closure of SSI have been helped into new jobs.
Keith Parry, from Middlesbrough, a former planning engineer in the power station at SSI UK, is one of the latest people to secure work thanks to the SSI Task Force Jobs and Skills Fund.
The 55-year-old has joined Ventilation Hygiene Specialists, which provides ventilation hygiene, fire safety and air flow testing services, as a maintenance technician. Other companies helped to create new jobs include Francis Brown Ltd – who recruited three of those directly affected by the steelworks closure.
The SSI Task Force Jobs and Skills Fund subsidises the cost of employment for each new job created with a payment of 50% of the basic salary costs for the first two years, up to a maximum of £11,000 per employee. All new jobs have to be sustainable for a minimum period of two years.
Even if companies have already recruited an individual affected by the SSI closure it’s not too late - there’s still time to apply and funding available.
More information on other support schemes available can be found at www.teesbusinesscompass.co.uk or by calling 01642 939386.