High-flying female representatives of a range of Teesside industries celebrated International Women’s Day as guests of global chemical giant SABIC.

Under the day’s theme of Be Bold for Change, industry attendees included representatives of Tees Valley Unlimited, PD Ports, NEPIC, Falck, Amec Foster Wheeler, ABB, Teesside University, Middlesbrough College and Jacobs.

Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council Leader, Councillor Sue Jeffrey – who was the first person to declare her interest in becoming the first Tees Valley Mayor – was key speaker at the networking event, which was held in SABIC’s conference suite at the Wilton Centre, near Redcar.

After outlining her career history and the challenges she had encountered, Sue answered questions from the audience on what devolution will mean for the Tees Valley region, and how more young women could be inspired to work in industry.

As International Women’s Day fell during National Apprentice Week, there was a further presentation on SABIC’s apprenticeship scheme, a discussion on the forthcoming apprentice levy, and a question and answer session with two of SABIC’s female apprentices. 

Emma Hughes, 19, and 18-year-old Amy Summerton talked about working in a perceived “man’s world” of the chemical industry, why they chose an apprenticeship rather than further education and what their inspiration had been in selecting their chosen disciplines.

A third year mechanical apprentice, Emma has already completed an NVQ level 2 in Instrument, Electrical and Mechanical together with a BTEC level 3. Due to complete her apprenticeships in the summer of 2018, she is currently working towards a HNC in Mechanical Engineering at Hartlepool College of Further Education and a level 3 NVQ.

One of many SABIC apprentices working towards completion of one of the new Trailblazer Standards Apprenticeships, Amy is a lab technician apprentice, currently working shifts on the Olefins 6 Cracker, having already completed 12 months at the firm’s North Tees site. She is looking to complete her apprentice end-point assessment this Autumn, having completed two years of training

Sue Jeffrey said: “I was delighted to be asked by SABIC to speak at International Women’s Day and have the opportunity to network and take questions from such a cross-section of women working across industry in the Tees Valley.

“I found the interactive session with the apprentices Emma and Amy extremely inspiring – they are such great role models for other young women.

“It has certainly provided me with food for thought on how we can inspire more women into fulfilling careers and how we can work more closely with the industry in our region to achieve that.”

Claire Wordsworth, Senior Communications Business Partner, SABIC said: “A huge thank you to Sue for making our International Women’s Day celebration an incredible success.  

“The feedback from the attendees has been how informative, enjoyable and worthwhile the event has been.  The session with our apprentices ensured we closed the event on a high, with plenty of inspiration and hope to see many more successful young women working in our industry in the future.”