Paul McEnaney, who went from Yarm restaurant owner to foundry manager.
Matthew Neville

£60m Teesside manufacturer tackles skills shortage with unique apprenticeship programme

Teesside based Paralloy, a manufacturer of specialist high alloy steels, is inviting applications from people who are willing to switch careers in order to tackle the skills shortage currently affecting the industry.

In the past it has recruited a former Yarm restaurant owner, who is now the manager of its foundry in Billingham, and, through a mature apprenticeship scheme, recruited four trainee machinists for its site in Sheffield, including a man in his 50s who had spent thirty years working as a doorman.

Paralloy is currently advertising for 25 people for its main Billingham site and a further 10 at its works in TeesAMP in Middlesbrough. Following a management buyout two years ago its sales have more than doubled to £60m and the workforce has increased by 100 to 350 across its three locations.

The company’s customers include Siemens, Rolls Royce, Exxon, Sabic, and GE, and the demand for its services are growing. It exports 95 per cent of its products to 70 overseas markets.

But, as local politicians and business leaders have identified, there is a “major skills gap” in the Tees Valley at a time when the demand for labour is increasing as a result of the unprecedented investment in new industries.

Paralloy is planning to launch an apprenticeship programme targeting mature workers as well and offering them a “good salary, excellent training and prospects”.

Chief Executive Robert McGowan said: “We want people with a good work ethic who are willing to learn. Pursuing new opportunities in a completely new field can supercharge your career as well as starting an exciting news phase in your life.

“It really doesn’t matter how old you are or what you’ve done before, changing direction may just be the best decision you ever make.”

Paul McEnaney, 46, who lives in Stockton, spent 20 years working in hospitality. He was the general manager of the iconic Purple Onion restaurant in Middlesbrough before owning Ciaras in Yarm. He decided to sell the restaurant after hundreds of customers had to cancel their bookings during a spell of bad winter weather.

Paul said: “I had no qualifications that related to this business. I had trained in a kitchen so I could relate to recipes. It was a bit like that: a little bit of this and that, and if you got it wrong you spoilt it. The appeal initially was clocking in and out and leaving it all at work rather than taking it home.

“I felt better in myself and gradually I became more involved in what the company was doing and took a keen interest in the science of it all.”

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