'Alternative roles for Novartis employees are out there - but they'll be competing against each other'

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 27 Sep 2018

ONCE the initial shock of Tuesday’s devastating announcement has subsided, attention will turn to what opportunities there are to get back into employment for many of the 395 Novartis workers who could lose their jobs.

While some may be close enough to retirement to take what is understood will be an enhanced redundancy package and call time on work, for many the first steps of a search will be starting soon.

A global employer of considerable standing, there are sure to be retraining and resources allocated to helping the Grimsby’s Novartis employees.

But it will also be a tough ask to match a sector-leading employer, and the sheer volume of people looking will undoubtedly see colleagues competing for roles when they become available.

Engineers of all trades are in demand, and Novartis will have many skilled in mechanical, electrical and instrumentation and control.

There are then lab technicians, production planners, quality control and quality assurance figures, as well as a large number of administration staff.


The Phillips 66 Humber Refinery (Image: Phillips 66)

Existing allied companies in the process industry of which Novartis is at the forefront include the two Humber bank refineries, Phillips 66 and Total Lindsey Oil Refinery, titanium dioxide producer Cristal and the likes of specialty chemical operations Basf, Synthomer, BOC and bio-refinery Greenergy lining the Humber bank.

Within a manageable commute for quality employment are Croda, at Goole, RB and Smith & Nephew in Hull, while the port itself – a key attraction for these companies – is swelling too, with a £36 million investment in Immingham Container Terminal likely to create scores more jobs.

Read more: Novartis factory up for sale in Grimsby as MP holds talks with owners about fate of staff

But this blow comes just after the announced closure of Vivergo Fuels in Hull, with people in similar positions also in the jobs market.

So what are the new opportunities? Offshore wind has been the major growth area for Grimsby, and energy giant Innogy has just announced Triton Knoll is coming to the port, creating 170 jobs, as Orsted continues to build up to serve not one but three new larger-than-ever farms and the existing portfolio.


Offshore wind is a major growth area for Grimsby and could provide a lifeline for Novartis employees

However, opportunities in the manufacturing supply chain have yet to appear at Able Marine Energy Park, where developers have remained tight-lipped following the latest round of announcements, which didn’t include any use of the as-yet undeveloped quays.

New energy from waste power stations from North Beck Energy and existing gas-fired power operator EP UKI in Immingham and Stallingborough should create more than 100 jobs if realised, with a 299MW gas-fired power station also outlined by VPI, alongside the refinery-based combined heat and power plant it bought from Phillips 66 in 2013.

C.Gen also has consent for a further 470MW power station at North Killingholme. With the South Bank being opened up for additional inward investment, as yet unknown opportunities may still emerge in the two year timeframe outlined, a buyer may even come in and retain many, but as we stand it looks like one strong, sought after employer leaving, taking the continual succession requirements with it.



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