Championing chemicals

Posted on 27 Mar 2011 by The Manufacturer

Sector skills council Cogent has appointed a new strategy director for chemicals and petrochemicals to support skills development across sectors worth billions to the UK economy.

Jenny Clucas has been CEO of the industry-led chemical cluster support organisation Chemicals Northwest for the last three years and is also currently a trustee of Catalyst, an interactive science centre devoted to chemistry. In addition Clucas has industry experience in roles with Laporte Chemicals and Solvay Interox where she worked as a development chemist and group manager of R&D respectively.

In her new role with the sector skills council for science based industries, Clucas will take on responsibility for directing skills strategy development across the UK in the chemicals and petrochemicals sectors. These two process manufacturing disciplines achieve combined turnovers in excess of £50bn annually and as such can be counted among the UKs largest manufacturing sectors. Furthermore, as the UKs major export market, chemicals and petrochemicals will play a critical part in the government’s strategic goal to utilise exports for economic recovery. Chemical and petrochemical export activities range across products from industrial alcohols and gases to cosmetics and medicines.
The future strength of these important industries will however, depend on the UKs ability to build strong chemistry skills in the next generation of chemists and chemical process engineers. Although chemistry has seen a slow rise back to popularity with students after a dip in the early 2000s, there is still a great deal of work to be done to ensure that the necessary talent is attracted into industry.

In order to deploy skills strategy, Clucas will work closely with with Cogent’s employer-led Advisory Councils for Chemicals and Downstream. Clucas’ ability to direct this deployment network rationally and with sensitivity to both employer needs, regional economies and futures skills will be bolstered, not only by extensive industry experience, but also by strong capabilities in strategy deployment, change management and operational delivery. These capabilities have been built over 12 years of work with Wentworth Consultants where Clucas played an important part in projects with process industry companies like FMC, GSK, Flexsys and Cognis.

Anticipating the challenge of the work she is now taking on Clucas said, “I am really excited to be taking on this new role and looking forward to the opportunity to work with Cogent and the industry on the vital area of skills strategy. This role will allow me to combine my knowledge and experience of the sector with my long standing passion for skills development, which has been a major focus of my work with Chemicals Northwest and previous roles.”

Cogent CEO Joanna Woolf added: “I’m absolutely delighted to welcome Jenny, who joins us from a much valued partner organisation. She brings with her a tremendous network and in-depth experience of the process industries. Jenny will support Cogent’s work with these strategic industries to help them collectively address the skills challenges they face.

“We [Cogent] will benefit hugely from her experience in building relations with employers, training providers and higher education, as well as her ability to translate industry requirements into sector-wide solutions.”

An added bonus in Clucas’ appointment to this strategically important role is her will to champion the cause of women in manufacturing and STEM-based work. Earlier this year Clucas took part in an event, hosted at Liverpool University where she was herself educated, to give evidence in support of the need for more women in the chemicals industry.