Sheffield College representatives attended the landmark event, which saw the restart of the electric arc furnace, which was mothballed by previous owners during the steel crisis two and a half years ago.
The furnace is part of a multi-million-pound investment by the Liberty House Group – a member of the GFG Alliance - that is creating 300 new jobs at Rotherham and its sister plant in Stocksbridge, as well as many hundreds more across the country.
The Liberty Group has a strong commitment to developing young people’s skills. The company delivers bespoke training at the dedicated apprentice centre it runs in collaboration with The Sheffield College on its Stocksbridge site.
Its Speciality Steels business alone is recruiting a dozen graduates and 20 apprentices this year to train in engineering, technical and support roles.
Angela Foulkes, Principal and Acting Chief Executive, The Sheffield College, who attended the furnace switch-on, said: “I am delighted that our apprentices had the opportunity to meet His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales.”
She added: “The College makes a significant contribution to the local economy by supporting employers and providing them with the workforce of the future who have the training to match skills needs and support economic growth.”
Angela attended the event with Steve Elliott, the College’s Director for Engineering Technologies. The 800,000-tonne-a-year furnace, which turns scrap metal into specialised steels for uses such as vehicle gearboxes or aircraft landing gear, will now play a pivotal role in Liberty’s overall GREENSTEEL strategy, designed to usher in a cleaner and more competitive era for the industry in the UK.
During his visit to the 2,000-worker business on February 16th, Prince Charles was briefed by GFG executive chairman, Sanjeev Gupta, on progress towards the Alliance’s vision for an industrial revival based on renewable energy, metal recycling and integration of the supply chain.
The Royal visitor also met several young people who will form part of a new generation of skilled workers for the steel sector and wider industry.
These include Liberty apprentices and graduate recruits as well as Industrial Cadets from local schools whom the company supports to develop their knowledge and experience of industry, with a view to building careers in metals, manufacturing or engineering.
When it bought the business in May 2017, Liberty pledged to restart the furnace as part of an initial £20m investment plan to expand the Speciality operation and create an additional 300 jobs.
Many hundreds more jobs are being created in the wider GFG group, which is Britain’s fastest-growing industrial employer, with 5,500 staff nationwide.
The switch-on marks the culmination of five months engineering work by a team of 35 people to repair and upgrade the equipment.
It will triple Liberty’s capacity to melt scrap into liquid steel at Rotherham, making the company the largest steel recycler in the UK, with a capability to melt over 1.2m tonnes a year. For more information, visit http://www.libertyhousegroup.com/
For more information on how the College supports employers’ training and skills needs, call 0114 2602600 or visit https://www.sheffcol.ac.uk/employers.