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Published 23rd Mar 2017

Chemoxy trainee Jack Grieves (left) with commercial director Paula Tinkler, at Chemoxy's Middlesbrough site

A role reversal at Teesside chemical firm Chemoxy put one apprentice in the boss’ shoes for a day.

As the company announced its 2017 intake, commercial director Paula Tinkler and apprentice Jack Grieves spent a day swapping roles at Chemoxy’s All Saints Refinery in Middlesbrough.

Trainee Jack, who has been an apprentice for two and half years with the contract manufacturer, was helped by Paula in replacing a key piece of kit at the firm’s site.

In return, Paula led Jack – a mechanical technician - in important work on Chemoxy’s preparations for an international conference.

Jack, 21, from Billingham, said: “I started life at Chemoxy on a five-week placement, and then I was asked to stay on.

“Now I’m half way through the first year of an HNC qualification – and my ambition is to progress on to degree level, which would be studied on a day release.

“The job swap with Paula was a great chance for me to learn more about the decision making going on in head office, and for me to show her the sort of work I’m involved in.”

The job swap came on the back of a special lunch event held at Middlesbrough College’s STEM Centre, which marked the contribution of apprentices to Chemoxy.

Paul Harrison, an employee of the firm’s Electrical Department, is Chemoxy’s longest serving former apprentice, having started 1990.

Paula, who is an electrical engineer by background and now occupies a strategic role at Chemoxy, explained why the job swap had taken place.

She said: “At Chemoxy we’ve a strong tradition of bringing talent on through apprenticeships – and many of our senior managers started their careers as apprentices with the company.

“It’s vital that our future leaders have the technical understanding of the processes we carry out at our sites, and getting to grips with that via an apprenticeship is one of the most effective ways of building that knowledge.

“For me the experience has been invaluable. I got a great look at exactly how work is carried out on site, and how hard it can be for our staff – like Jack – when they have to battle wind and rain to perform important tasks.

“We’re now hoping to run similar job swaps with other senior members of staff.”

Four of Chemoxy’s current plant managers started out as apprentices.

Paula cited Matthew Newton, Dan Arkle, Stephen Thompson, Michael Thompson and Mick Larkin as examples of how apprentices can enjoy progression at the Europe-leading manufacturer.

Around 25 employees of the firm’s 147-strong workforce are either current or past Chemoxy-sponsored apprentices.

The firm will now recruit a process technician and a mechanical technician for September 2017 start dates.

Those interested are encouraged to seek more information by contacting the firm on 01642 248555 or visit the website:

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