Catch rebrands for a broader industry role

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 24 May 2017

CATCH chief executive David Talbot believes there is cautious optimism within the industry, despite concern over Brexit’s impact on the Humber’s chemical processing industry.

Having completed his first full year at the helm of the public/private partnership behind the Stallingborough-based sector training facility and network, he told of the rollercoaster 12 months that greeted him at the organisation’s annual dinner.

He said: “When I took over this job last year, little did I realise how much the political and industrial landscape would change, and how much Catch could support the Humber region’s position on matters such as Brexit, the Industrial Strategy, the burgeoning offshore wind sector, the skills gap, the apprenticeship levy, the new apprenticeship standards and, whether Grimsby Town would get a new football stadium!  

“As I wrote this speech, I found myself reflecting on the amount of positive news that we had last year from across the region, against the backdrop of Brexit. News such as the new wood chip plant at Saltend, the Ineos capital investment that has increased their production of ethylacetate on-site (at Hedon) and Croda reinforcing its commitment to UK manufacturing by announcing a major capital expansion at its Hull facility.  

“Of course, we must also mention the Siemens’ decision to invest in the new blade factory that started operating in September and the offshore wind operations and maintenance growth in Grimsby, including Dong Energy, that will create jobs throughout the supply chain.

“The message I am getting as I visit sites is one of caution but with a hint of muted optimism.”

Connor Benson, fourth year apprentice at Phillips 66 Humber Refinery, is presented with the ConCom Award at the Catch annual dinner by Dr Joanne Murray of ABB.

He told a large audience at Hallmark Hotel, North Ferriby, how training demand remains at the forefront of discussions across the industry. 

“The skills gap remains a constant topic locally and nationally and at Catch we have a number of exciting projects on-going to support our stakeholders in bridging the gap.  

“Everything we do is driven by and for industry, and an excellent example of that is our Science Industry Apprenticeship Consortium, set up at Catch by member companies to implement the new government backed apprenticeship standards on site.  This is a great initiative that has seen the employers directing what they want their apprenticeships to look like.

“Currently, apprentice numbers remain a challenge, which could be due to employers holding out to see how the apprenticeship levy works out, but I firmly believe that in the longer-term the levy will be seen as a positive step forward and employers will continue to invest in their future skills needs by investing in apprentices.”

Mr Talbot, who joined from BAE Systems having spent 21 years in the RAF, said there had been “a great deal of activity and change over the past 12-months” on the Catch campus, while revealing new branding. 

It will now focus on the name Catch – an acronym of Centre for Assessment of Technical Competencies – Humber.

“The big difference that you will notice is that we have dropped the reference to Humber Chemical Focus in our brand identity,” he said. “This does not change our role as an advocate for the chemical and process industries – and indeed industry in general.  

“We will continue to represent our industries and our members through association with regional and national organisations.
“Indeed, we have a very exciting vision for the future and many of you will have seen the infrastructure investment on site – a sign of confidence that Catch is heading in the right direction.

“A major part of our vision for the future is around the off-shore wind industry, as Catch is in the right place with the right facilities and the right partners in the University of Hull, AIS, and our wider network, to support the sector’s needs. 

“We are pleased to be working with the University of Hull on the talent pipeline work strand of Project Aura –  an initiative that will bring together industry partners to drive forward innovation in the offshore wind sector.”

'Tell your positive stories'

CATCH chairman Brendan Conlan has urged those involved in the area’s industry to ask as ambassadors and get the good news out there. 

In his address, the managing director of Immingham’s On Line Design and Engineering, said: “ I would like to ask everyone in this room, everyone in the Humber, to show the rest of the UK, this is an area getting better. We need to be at the forefront, creating positive stories, showing there are opportunities for people out there. We have more control over what happens in this region than a lot of individuals, let’s work this for the betterment of this region as a whole.”

Proud of how engineering skills are exported across the UK and beyond, he also stressed the need to encourage the next generation.

“We need more young people in the industry, without being disrespectful, there is a lot of grey hair around the room.”

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