Departing Catch chairman calls for Humber unity and youth engagement

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 10 May 2019

The chairman of the Humber’s beacon process training centre and cluster organisation, Catch, is to step down.

Brendan Conlan, managing director of Immingham-based On Line Design and Engineering, has served for the past four years, welcoming chief executive David Talbot and overseeing further expansion of the Stallingborough facility, which has earned international recognition.

He made the announcement at last night’s Catch’s annual dinner, with 320 guests dining at Willerby.

“I will be standing down at this year’s AGM,” he said. “There have been a lot of changes at Catch. Four years ago a lot of what we did relied heavily on funding from government organisations. Like most things in austerity, that money disappeared. There had to be a lot of changes, we had to stand on our own two feet.

“Catch Skills was developed and over the last four years, financially it has been rocky at times, but we are on a firmer financial footing now, and that’s due to David, his team and the on-site partners.”

David Talbot, chief executive of Catch. Picture: David Lee Photography Ltd.

David Talbot, chief executive of Catch. All pictures: David Lee Photography Ltd.

Advertising the vacancy, and championing his passion for fostering engineering desire in children, Mr Conlan said: “Catch is one organisation, we have 400 companies who respectively employ over 200,000 employees in the UK – think of the power that is in this room.”

Given two bites of the cherry - after guest speaker Faye Banks, a National Grid employee and youngest ever fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology, was forced to cancel after suffering a tyre blow out on the M62 - Mr Conlan didn’t hold back.

Read more: Linking up to develop new Institute of Technology

Having invited primary and secondary school teachers from his home village of Healing, star apprentices and mentors graced the stage, with the enthusiasm from all underlined, using the recent electric car challenge held in Hull as the catalyst to show how interest in the industry has been piqued. He underlined the skills gap and urged members to not adopt shot termism strategies and invest in apprentices.

“Everything I do is about the betterment of skills in industry and my belief is in young people,” he said. “Young people, when given opportunities, do not let us down. It is us as adults who have a tendency to let young people down.”

And not one to shy away from issues, with Humber LEP chief executive Kishor Tailor another guest, he urged all to get behind the Humber as an economic entity and key part of the Northern Powerhouse.

Marc Doyle receives the Outstanding Leader Award at the Catch annual dinner from sponsor Andrew Pilling, director of E3 Recruitment.

Government is keen to remove dual LEP membership which the South Bank enjoys, and with both local authorities now in Conservative control, there may be concern of a favoured traditional county of Lincolnshire approach.

Catch, formerly Humber Chemical Focus, represents the huge cluster, with Mr Conlan himself having worked on the North Bank for Centrica Storage, with On Line also having a presence.

“I would like all the companies in here to put as much influence on whatever political aspirations and political colours representing the regions around the Humber,” he said. “The Humber is a waterway, and waterways are used in one of two ways; a natural barrier or as an industrial estuary to help business.

“I see very good examples of where we use the Humber for bettering business and furthering development of business, however, I see a lot of it being used as a natural barrier. That natural barrier that people are using is to the detriment of the Humber.

Phillips 66 apprentice Connor Watson receives the ConCom Apprentice of the Year Award from Mr Pilling.

“Anywhere you can influence the incumbent political parties please do. Don’t sit back and say ‘not our problem’ it will be a problem if we don’t have a cohesive Humber.”  

The dinner was the first under the now enlarged organisation, which has absorbed West Yorkshire focused YCF.

Mr Talbot gave an overview of the highlights, with potential chemical sector deal flagged, as well as the mention in the signed-off offshore wind equivalent for the training facility, which has just welcomed Maersk on site.

Read more: Lasting tribute to giant of Humber’s chemical industry

We welcomed the extension along the M62 corridor, describing it as a "key addition", telling how a skills and competencies network had already been established, with a cosmetics cluster introduced to Catch's chemistry connections on a national stage. 

"We opened our latest facility, the Hughes Building, in October 2017," he said, the addition named after a well-respected predecessor. "At the time we thought we would struggle to make the most of the capacity. I can announce that 18 months later it is almost full. That's six workshops, 18 class rooms, 16 offices, a working at height facility, scaffolding training centre and a replica process plant almost in constant use.

"It is down to the strength of the stakeholder relationships and our choice of onsite training providers."

Natasha Greenbury, project planner and cost engineer at Bilfinger, is named Young Achiever.

Future developments include the enhancement of the process plant with Reynolds Training Services and the settling of Maesrk on site.

"It has been an absolute pleasure to welcome Maersk to the plant," Mr Talbot said. "The quality of training and intent they have shown to engage in the region makes for a really exciting opportunity."

We also welcomed the two Institute of Technology proposals with Hull and Lincoln universities and North Lindsey College, reaching preferred bidder status.  "Catch has played a part in both bids," he said. "Through new provision at Level Four we are driving up the level of skills for the region, and it will be fascinating to see how this provision is delivered.

"The last 12 months have seen a huge amount of activity across industry in the Yorkshire and Humber region, with exciting developments as we look forward to the next 12 months."

Humber Waste Alliance is recognised for Best Partnership Award.

The annual ConCom Apprentice of the Year award was won by Phillips 66 mechanical apprentice Connor Watson, with drive and enthusiasm praised. He pipped Michael Avis, control and power apprentice at Total Lindsey Oil Refinery and Kieran Sembiante, apprentice mechanical fitter at Jacobs Field Services, to the title.

New for 2019, and People Awards saw Marc Doyle, principal and chief executive at Engineering UTC North Lincolnshire crowned Outstanding Leader. The citation told hw he has led it to securing a good Ofsted rating and "implementing incredible improvements in engineering provision for the local community". It added: "He is unwaveringly committed to children and staff and has created an incredible culture of unconditional positive regard."

Natasha Greenbury, a project planner and cost engineer for Bilfinger was given the Young Achiever Award, pipping Orean Personal Care duo Ewelina Choma and Paulina Kozielska, from Cleckheaton.

Best Partnership Award went to Humber Waste Alliance, a marine litter prevention group on the North Bank of the Humber, with Skills Project of the Year going to Bradford, and the Nufarm NuGeneration team.

Skills Project of the Year - Nufarm NuGeneration. 

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