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SSI Teesside Plant: What Next for Workers?
After the shock announcement on Monday that the SSI steel plant in Redcar is closing down, leaving 1,700 people without a job, anxious voices from thousands of families are wondering what's next for their future. Some workers will have been at the plant since leaving school, whilst others relied on it as a local saviour of their specialist profession. Either way, it has had a devastating impact on the manufacturing industry for the area.
Whilst jobs are trying to be saved where possible, hundreds of workers will already be looking elsewhere and trying to get their careers back on track. This article will take a comprehensive look at the process of finding your feet again after such a devastating blow, and is here to help those and their families through this tough time, giving expert advice and valuable sources from which they can rebuild their career.
This isn't the first time
It is worth pointing out that this isn't the first time the 156-year old steel plant in Redcar has run into trouble - as recent as 2009 in fact. When steel maker Corus ceased their production at the Teesside factory in 2009, 1,700 jobs hung in the balance then. The plant was 'partially' mothballed, with its blast furnace, coke oven and steel melt shop all being temporarily closed down due to them becoming unsustainable.
It was in April 2012 that the plant fully re-opened, thanks to Thai-based company SSI taking over. Yet it appears the same demons have reared their heads again, with SSI pausing production on the 18th September 2015, before announcing 10 days later that the plant is being closed indefinitely due to poor global steel prices and trading conditions. An unfortunate and sorry case of deja vu for workers and residents of the area.
Tata Steel and Caparo Announcements
Just a matter of weeks after the SSI Plant made their problems public, Tata Steel have revealed that over 1,200 of their workers are now at risk of redundancy. This news would effectively mean Scotland's long history (143 years to be precise) of steel-making could be under threat. With Dalzell, Clydebridge and Scunthorpe all at risk of major job losses, the latter being the main affected, questions are being asked as to what went wrong with our steel industry.
The straightforward answer to this is that the price of steel has almost halved over the past year, from approximately £320 per tonne to £190. This has put a lot of UK firms out of the market as they are no longer able to compete at such a price. In 1970 the UK had over 280,000 jobs in this sector - in 2015 we have just 30,000 remaining.
Caparo Industries have also gone into partial administration, after announcing that their total of 1,700 workers could potentially be at risk of losing their jobs. For the time being, work and pay at Caparo will carry on as normal, whilst the administrators' review will begin - but with these large companies folding like dominoes it proves an uncertain and gloomy slump for steel workers in the UK
Many employees are left wondering what to do this time around. While our sympathy goes out to every single person, it is impossible to say what the future holds for each individual. What we can do is give the best advice available to ensure your career gets back on track as fast as possible.
Read on to find out how to start from the ground up: finding yourself a reliable place of work that utilises the skills and knowledge that you've accumulated over your career so far.
First Step: Your CV
When you've been happy in a role for some time, your CV can quickly lose its 'edge' and, of course, become outdated. To bounce back from the problem faced in Redcar at the moment, employees should first take some time to polish up their CVs. After all, this is your key into any door in your profession.
Doing a CV can be a daunting task, as we all want to say the 'right' things to impress employers, but aren't always sure how to present such information effectively. Take a look at the infographic and 'Writing for Robots' sub-section in our latest article about waiting for recruiter feedback to get an idea of what makes an effective CV.
You can follow companies on LinkedIn, allowing you to track their latest news and potential job openings. This means you are always well informed of the job market within your sector.
It also helps to have a look on the trusty world wide web for CV Templates. Templates help to give you a foundation to start from, building an invisible structure to your document. They also provide a good source of universal examples of layout preferences and general subheadings that are commonly used.
It also helps to customise your cover letter for a specific job. This way it shows the employer that you are not only an ideal match for the role, but also presents tailored points relating to their business and why you want to work there.
Highlight relevant and transferable skills
It could be worthwhile writing your CV in a way that highlights certain skills which will crossover into other industries. By this I mean universally applicable experience, such as managerial status, assembly experience or even general knowledge about the properties of steel or manufacturing industry as a whole. Such features can add a different dynamic to your list of skills, potentially allowing you to be considered for roles in engineering or other types of management.
Another option is to have your CV professionally designed and written for a fee. Whilst this method will ensure your CV looks the part, the last thing you want to do if you have just lost your job is spend money on something you could well do yourself. With a little research online and advice from various forums, you alone could give your CV the new lease of life it deserves.
To coincide with your revamped CV, ensuring you are utilising all of the potential sources of employer contact is equally important. If you are not already on there, signing up to LinkedIn will certainly help in finding new opportunities. Think of it like a Facebook for professionals but, instead of sharing videos of cats, people share job postings and insightful articles relating to your industry.
You can join groups on there too - heavy industry and manufacturing groups where people in your profession share updates and give advice. You can also follow all kinds of companies, allowing you to track their latest news and potential job openings. This means you are as informed as possible on the job market within your sector, remaining one step ahead of the game.
Although LinkedIn primarily benefits recruiters and talent managers, putting yourself on there with such specialist manufacturing skills is only going to be a good thing.
Before doing any of this though, ensure your profile is completed to a good standard. It is essentially an online CV - listing your work history, qualifications and career summary. People you might have worked with in the past can endorse you on there too, giving your skills further credibility should the eye of a future employer happen to fall across it.
Twitter can also be another effective way of keeping in touch with news and affairs within particular job sectors and areas - although less so for actually contacting employers themselves. There are also plenty of industry forums available, where you can chat with other professionals within your line of work.
Don't forget to add a link to your LinkedIn profile onto your actual CV too (as well as on your footer in the forums), as it works well for a supporting document and exemplifies your computer skills.
Is LinkedIn suitably targeted at the steel industry though?
In a word, yes. Although LinkedIn primarily benefits recruiters and talent managers, putting yourself on there with such specialist manufacturing skills is only going to be a good thing. After all, those recruiters and talent managers are going on to the professional network to find people like you - people with a specific skill set, suited to a particular role.
Plus, with all of the companies that currently exist on LinkedIn, it is a great free resource in finding out who are the most important people to connect with and to impress (HR, Hiring Managers, Recruiters). In fact, more and more recruiters are now turning to social media as a form of sourcing quality talent.
Furthermore, out of the 1,700 employees from SSI, some will be of senior positions - such as managers and supervisors. These kind of transferrable 'people skills' are useful to display on your CV and LinkedIn, as they can be of benefit and applicable to warehouse work or construction.
How to look for another job
The first place a lot of people start when looking for a job is searching through the online job boards. While success can come from this, with a specialist skill such as steel manufacturing it can prove more difficult to find suitable work. The most effective way to search for this kind of job is by either searching general and specialist job boards (specific to your industry) or by registering to a specialist recruitment agency.
Depending on your role and capacity you have been working in, your job might well transcend other industries - giving you more diversity in your job search.
There are Manufacturing / Production recruitment agencies that put your career in the hands of experts who are recruiting in your field on a daily basis. They understand what skill shortages correlate to which locations, which companies are hiring and what traits are useful to those companies. This kind of information and knowledge would be impossible to accumulate yourself and it just might make all the difference in landing that perfect role sooner than you thought possible.
Depending on the position and capacity you have been working in, your job might well transcend other industries - giving you more diversity in your job search. You might find in fact that you are capable of finding a job in the industrial sector or engineering industry.Your relevant knowledge and exposure to similar working environments might mean that you only require one or two extra qualifications in order to operate heavy machinery or tooling for different purposes.
Registering with an agency also puts you in their database, which means that your name will constantly match with any applicable roles until you eventually find something. This takes the strain off your job search, meaning you don't have to spend hours traipsing across job postings and praying you haven't missed an opportunity.
Take a look on our website at some industry specific agencies in and around the Redcar area.
Prepare for interview
Attending any job interview can be nerve-wracking. You've never met these people before and, the first time you do, they will be asking you important career questions that (based on your answers) may or may not land you the job. More than this, there are multiple other things to consider when you prepare - such as what to wear, what your body language portrays and how to follow up after your interview.
The main thing to remember is to stay calm and focused. They wouldn't have invited you for an interview if they didn't think you were capable of the job. So keep that thought in your mind - you've already impressed them in some way. Research the company beforehand, in case they ask any questions about their history or current state of affairs. This shows that you have initiative and show a genuine interest.
Talk them through your experience and qualifications and relate them specifically to the role they are offering. Your skills are 'features' and how you apply those skills to the job are 'benefits' to them.
Relocating for work
A more common option than you might think, a lot of people are now relocating for the benefit of their careers. Whether this is down to increased opportunities or just to eradicate a lengthy commute, 54% of the UK's population now live in and around city regions.
Of course, it can be a daunting task at first - especially if you have a family to re-root. But, in equal amounts, it can also be exciting and deeply rewarding. Aside from finding a new career, it can prove to be a refreshing change to your overall lifestyle. We all need a change sometimes, right?
This article lists some of the key automotive, aerospace and technology manufacturers that still operate within the UK and their locations. With cities like Birmingham, Glasgow and Bristol (the latter two considered 'up and coming' super cities for the industry) providing a wealth of manufacturing and production opportunities, it could be worth a quick search of the areas to see if there are any jobs there that catch your eye.
This insightful report lists the UK's best companies to work for. It also breaks them down by company size, location and industry. Maybe your future employer is in there somewhere?
Abroad you say? Overseas? Live in another land? As drastic an option this might sound, it might be the most lucrative. With steel production in the UK struggling, there are opportunities elsewhere in the world that might be exactly what you're looking for. Germany, for example, has plenty of strong manufacturing companies that could be worth further research.
For more construction related opportunities (which may require some additional training or qualifications), Dubai is currently booming with projects and exciting career choices.
Of course, relocating abroad presents some other things to consider in addition to just relocating in the UK. Currency change, house prices, driving on the wrong side of the road - there is quite a list. But if you want it enough and feel like it's a challenge you would like to take on, the rewards are very lucrative.
Returning to study
There are two ways you can approach this route. You could go back to college to enhance and further develop your existing skills (achieving a higher level diploma or a supporting course in the specific area). You could also go back into education to have a complete career change and study something totally new.
Whichever you decide is best, it is always useful to take a step back and analyse your decision first. Ask yourself the following questions,
Studying to enhance my existing skill-set:
What would I learn above and beyond what I already know?What would this mean to my career progression?What would this mean to my salary?Would the pay-off at the end of the time commitment to studying be worth it?
Studying to change your career focus:
What am I interested in and passionate about?Will I enjoy learning the subject in detail?What are the current and future job prospects like?How does salary, hours and type of work compare to my current career?
If you decide to go with 'enhancing' your current skill-set, the Manufacturing Institute gives some useful advice on courses, training and anything else you might want to know for developing yourself in the industry.
Going with a full career change can be a scary thought, but if you do have any other passions or hobbies that really stand out to you, then it could be worth having a look at how they might translate into a successful career through further research and studying.
Start your own business
Never has there been a more popular time to start your own business. With more and more people searching for a better work / life balance, without having any bosses to answer to, this isn't a ludicrous option to consider. Whether you start a business by applying your existing knowledge in a certain area, or whether you start one based on a hobby you have, the key is to identify a suitable niche in the market.
Whether you are going to be selling a product or a service is also an important point to consider. If you are looking to sell a service, then you must find out if there is a similar 'service' already available, where they are located and what their pricing and selling point is.
If you're selling a product then your business model will be slightly different. You will still identify competitors and local sellers of the same product, but you must also look at how you can make it your own. Giving any product a unique edge over others is a surefire way to make you stand out in the market, attract customers and increase sales.
Finding a credible wholesale supplier of goods and purchasing them in bulk can mean your pricing is more competitive than other companies doing something similar. Once this basic structure to your company is set up, marketing it is easier than ever. With access to millions of people at the click of a finger, the internet allows us to create websites with ease, set up e-commerce (online trading software) and design marketing material for our businesses.
Running your own business takes a lot of self-motivation and a determination to succeed. As it is you that sets the rules, you must ensure that things get done, take responsibility and make sure 'procrastination' is non-existent. It helps to do something you are passionate about, as this creates an almost automatic motivation to make it successful.
Hopefully there are some nuggets of information you can take away from this article that will help you, or anybody you know, in getting through a difficult time like in Teesside at the moment. It's important to remember there is always light at the end of the tunnel and there are plenty of options available to re-track or change your career.
The links in this article provide great starting points of information to learn about your different options, but we do advise conducting your own, thorough research too. Staying optimistic is a more powerful state of mind than you might think. If you put yourself in the right places (such as LinkedIn and the forums we talked about earlier) and make yourself and your skills as easily discoverable as possible, opportunities will come along.
Equally, you should remain upbeat and active in your job search - not letting the fear of rejection get you down. Keep moving forward and keep applying!
Whatever you choose to do career-wise, the team at Agency Central wish you the best of luck and are always on hand to provide you with insightful information and a useful directory of specialist recruitment agencies that are able to help.
Written by Jon Clarke