Education and recruitment campaign key for chemicals

14 September 2009 16:55  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS news)--Leading global weekly chemicals magazine ICIS Chemical Business on Monday launched its education and recruitment campaign to highlight the importance of attracting new talent to the ageing industry.

A qualified labour shortage has permeated every aspect of the chemical sector, whether it is staff in the laboratories, engineers or truck drivers.

Many students still do not see the industry as an attractive career choice, thanks largely to a staid and rather negative public image cultivated over the past few decades.

Although statistics suggest that the situation is showing signs of improvement with more graduates emerging, there is still is a dearth of new entrants to the chemical sector.

In the midst of the worst financial downturn for decades, and with the prospect of intense competition from emerging economies such as Asia and the Middle East, it is essential that more is done to address these issues now.

“Our campaign aims to highlight the many and varied benefits of a career in the chemical industry, increase awareness among students and emphasise the importance of initiatives that can attract future talent,” said Will Beacham, ICIS Chemical Business deputy editor.

The year-long ICIS Chemical Business initiative has already received widespread support from leading market players and trade associations, including the Association of Petrochemicals Producers in Europe (Appe), the UK’s Chemical Business Association, the US-based Chemical Heritage Foundation and France’s Societe de Chimie Industrielle.

Cal Dooley, President and CEO of the American Chemistry Council, said that encouraging students to pursue science is a priority of the chemical industry and labelled the initiative “an admirable and much-needed endeavour”.

Phil Jones, CEO of the UK-based National Skills Academy Process Industries, gave his support to the campaign, and emphasised that it was the industry’s collective responsibility to ensure that candidates are gaining essential skills and training.

“With the shift towards greener production techniques and the chemicals industry’s part in developing new technologies, these young people will be the lifeblood of the industry,” Jones added.

Hendrik Abma, director general of the European Association of Chemical Distributors (FECC), also reiterated the importance of recruitment.

"Attracting sufficient highly qualified human resources into our industry is essential for future growth and success of the European chemical industry,” said Abma. “Education and attracting talent are the foundation of innovation and competitiveness and that is why the FECC is supporting initiatives such as this to increase interest and confidence in chemistry among youngsters.”

ICIS Chemical Business will be running articles over the next year to showcase the efforts of the industry and encourage debate. For more about the campaign, see the 14 September issue.

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