AN apprentice who started working at a steelworks the day before its closure was announced is looking forward to a brighter future.

Lewis Mitchell was only 16 and straight out of school when he signed his apprenticeship contract with SSI in Redcar. The following day it was announced that the steelworks were to permanently close.

I was devastated,” said Mr Mitchell, now 20.

“I felt ready to start my career, I’d just left school and went through the whole interview process, I signed my contract and everything. And just like that, it was taken away.”

Luckily for him, less than a week had passed and Seqens Custom Specialties – formerly Chemoxy – one of Teesside’s largest chemical companies, stepped in to offer him an electrical apprenticeship with help from SSI Task Force funding.

Following his three-year apprenticeship, Mr Mitchell, who lives in Redcar with his mum, dad and sister, has now secured employment with Seqens full-time as an electrical maintenance technician.

“I love the job and really enjoy it – I have a good laugh with everyone here and I get lots of opportunities to train and grow.

“I have much more responsibility now and Seqens is funding me through a Higher National Certificate in Electrical Engineering, so the opportunities keep coming. The job has matured me quite a bit.”

Andrew Purvis, Seqens’ quality and training manager, said: “We offered him the apprenticeship even though we weren’t really looking for an electrician at the time, but we had funding from the SSI Task Force, and through Lewis’s own development and our growth as a business, he created his own job.

“He jumped in quickly and landed on his feet. Lewis had the right attitude, and was willing to learn. We’re all very proud of him.”

Amanda Skelton, chair of the SSI Task Force, said: “Lewis was one of 50 young people who were helped by the SSI Task Force when their SSI apprenticeship came to an abrupt end in 2015.

“I would like to thank Seqens for reacting so quickly and creating a new opportunity for Lewis. He can now look forward to a bright future."