14th February 2024

More Than A Building: Skills Academy Boss Unveils Schools Ambition To Prepare For Jobs Wave

Schools across the region can expect to hear more about jobs, opportunities and training at Teesworks in 2024.

That’s the message from Neil Young, the leader at the Teesworks Skills Academy, as efforts to fill thousands of upcoming jobs at the former steelworks site gather pace.

The Skills Academy was created as a “one-stop-shop” to link jobseekers, local employment hubs, skills providers and businesses coming to the site to ensure as many people as possible benefit from the upcoming wave of employment to come from the site.

With a background in education, Neil grew up in Redcar and joined the Teesworks team in late 2022.

He has now revealed his ambition to see primary and secondary schools in the Tees Valley receive visits about Teesworks and hear more about the opportunities to come from the huge site.

Neil said: “It’s working with the businesses, getting into the schools and sharing what these businesses are bringing.

“That’s the next thing for me – my target is getting all the schools, from primary age, secondary school and colleges, to understand Teesworks is at the forefront of employment opportunities with the big businesses coming in.

“I’m working closely with the careers team at the Tees Valley Combined Authority on getting into the schools and getting together with businesses.

“It’s also changing the mindset and vision of parents too.”

Access to Jobs

The Skills Academy saw more than 1,200 young people come through the doors of its South Bank base in 2023.

Ensuring investors and companies know what they need from their labour force is one key role the Skills Academy plays.

Neil and the team then spring into action with training providers, both educational and independent and ensure the offer is suitable to the needs of the businesses and the individuals seeking the opportunity to gain employment on-site in the future.

One practical example is making sure they’re training students and ensuring people are gaining skills on the right kind equipment for the type of work they will be undertaking.

SeAH Wind staff chat at a Meet The Employer Event at Teesworks Skills Academy

SeAH Wind staff chat at a Meet The Employer Event at Teesworks Skills Academy

“It’s getting the message out there earlier and working with providers to ensure they understand what is coming, what is needed and how we can work together,” added Neil.

“Ensuring the whole of the Tees Valley is represented at Teesworks is another a key aim.”

Getting people the access they need to training and courses to secure upcoming jobs is also at the heart of the Skills Academy’s reason for being.

SeAH Wind’s huge offshore wind manufacturing facility at South Bank is taking shape at pace – with vacancies now open for hundreds of the 750 jobs and 1,500 indirect jobs it is set to bring.

The Net Zero Teesside Power project is earmarked to bring more than 4,000 jobs alone.

And the wider plan for Teesworks is to bring 18,000 long-term sustainable jobs to the region.

The team helps steer those interested in jobs, or firms who want to increase the skills of their staff, towards training providers so they can fill upcoming positions.

Neil added: “Due to the current status of the site, we are supporting companies in the construction sector, signposting individuals to courses to upskill them to move into new roles or support their companies move into different areas of work on the site. This will most definitely change as we bring in more companies and we move to the operational phase where more specific skills will be needed – for example welding at SeAH, or plant operations at Net Zero Teesside and Circular Fuels.

“We’re a conduit. We haven’t got training courses running every single day of the week, but what we have got is people coming to us and we can steer them where to go so they get qualified.

“They go on and get higher paid jobs and their former roles are filled locally.”

Knock-on Effects

While the vision will bring many skilled manufacturing jobs, Neil is keen to stress how many of the knock-on benefits of Teesworks – as well as new projects in the pipeline – will not necessarily require jobs in engineering or heavy industry.

He said: “We want as many people as possible to understand what is happening on their doorstep.

“Whether you are young or old, it’s about understanding what is coming.

“For young people, it’s getting them to understand they don’t have to necessarily leave the area.

“We are looking at specific sectors in renewable energy, carbon capture and hydrogen but, actually, there is the Teesworks Services Park which will need hospitality jobs, there’s the retail element which will need staff, and the transport hub to come.”

The Skills Academy from Above

The Skills Academy from Above

Redcar born and raised, father-of-three Neil saw how the closure of steelworks had a knock-on effect on deprivation in the town, its high street and on the fabric of communities.

The 44-year-old added: “I was chairman of Redcar Rugby Club for 10 years. We went from having four teams over the past 20 years, and playing at a very good standard, to losing what was then ICI and the steelworks and losing people who’ve either gone away to work, become self-employed and didn’t want to risk injury.

“The impact of all job creation is people spend money – people visit the local cinema, they go out more regularly, it’s not just an annual treat. They go to coffee shops, restaurants and bars.

“I’m local, I’m passionate and I can see what this site is going to bring to the Tees Valley.”


One worker helped by the Skills Academy was Adam Dickinson who joined Teesworks in 2022.

He began as a General Operative at Steel House and went to gain the qualifications he needed to become a site supervisor.

He has now chalked up eight fully-funded qualifications since his Teesworks career began.

Adam Dickinson at Steel House

Adam Dickinson at Steel House

“I am incredibly grateful for the career progression and personal development I have made thanks to the support and guidance of those around me at Teesworks,” said Adam.

Adopted Teessider Nicole Curry was another worker helped in her career.

Nicole became pregnant during the pandemic and had the added stress of losing her job of a decade.

But she discovered the chance to work for Teesworks through a social media post by her local employment hub, with the added bonus that she could gain further skills as she worked.

Nicole Curry at Steel House

Nicole Curry at Steel House

Nicole has now secured seven fully funded qualifications while working – giving her the skills needed to progress in her career.

She said: “After the pandemic, and being made redundant through covid, I struggled to find work. I was also pregnant, which made gaining employment a lot harder, however I was given the opportunity to work in Steel House on lighter duties including admin, which I am extremely grateful for.”

Martin Corney, CEO of Teesworks, said: “It’s wonderful to see the Skills Academy has made a good start in helping Teessiders get access to the jobs and skills they need to ensure they’re working on site.

“The Skills Academy is a huge part of making Teesworks a household name on Teesside – and a byword for well-paid jobs and a happy life.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen added: “We are now seeing the results of all the tireless effort we have put in to attract investment to the site in the form of good quality jobs.

“Ensuring the next generation from across Teesside, Darlington, and Hartlepool are equipped with the skills required for the green jobs of the future is vital and it’s great to hear the Skills Academy is pushing this in schools.

“With SeAH and Net Zero Teesside already confirmed and more projects in the pipeline, we will see thousands of jobs come to the site in the next few years. This is fantastic for the area, but we need to make sure local people are in a position to take them.”

To find out more about the Teesworks Skills Academy, phone 01642 408000 or email enquiries@teesworks.co.uk

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