Grangemouth chemical firm gets the right mix for the future

The apprentices of Calachem
The apprentices of Calachem

A long established Grangemouth chemical firm is looking to make its local roots even stronger with a new drive to recruit apprentices.

As a company Calachem has been present in the town under a variety of names, including ICI and Kemfine, for well over half a century and, despite a worrying time a couple of years ago, is still going strong.

Managing director Neil Partlett wants to ensure the future of the Earls Road site with an injection of youth.

He said: “We are a relatively small local business, we’re not a big multi-national – Grangemouth is everything for us. The two big issues for us when it comes to long term survival are skills and energy costs and the skills issue is the more important of the two.

“We can take people from the street, heating engineers and other tradesmen, and train them to become chemical process engineers, but we are now working hard to actually bring students in on apprenticeships.”

The company recently made a commitment to donate £2000 every year to Grangemouth Community Care, which helps provide social interaction for elder people, to help them with their transport costs.

Mr Partlett said: “We want to work together with the community to support them and hopefully they will support us. We want to attract local people into our industry.

“All of our nine apprentices are male, so we support Skills Development Scotland’s drive to attract more females into the industry. We are also looking to get more school leavers on board in what is a well paid and rewarding industry to work in.”

Calachem currently has six modern apprentices on site and a further three will arrive next month after the completion of their first year at college. The company is interviewing for a further three apprentices due to start their first year college placement after the summer break.

David Hutcheon, Calachem training manager, said: “We have been extremely pleased with the attitude and performance of all our apprentices. Our three third year apprentices have been sitting their HNC exams and completed the required assessed units ahead of schedule.

“The students are benefiting from being able to apply real work experience supported by academic study.”