Report to the
16 November 2010
Dr Ian Mains
REPORT FROM THE NATIONAL SKILLS ACADEMY
New Chair for the Academy
Allan Laing, Chief Executive of Pentagon Chemicals (Holdings) Ltd, succeeded Chris Horton as Chair of the Academy in
October. Laing graduated with an honours degree in chemical engineering from Strathclyde University in 1975. He joined ICI
working in production management on the large petrochemical plants and then senior management roles in its chemical
intermediates and polymers businesses.
He joined specialties company MTM in 1989 and later worked for two years in the food industry, before returning to chemicals
in early 1995 as MD of Pentagon Chemicals. Laing led Pentagon through strategic changes and a merger with Chemoxy
International to form Haltermann UK within Ascot plc where he continued as MD. Following the acquisition of Ascot in 2001
by Dow Chemical, he led the buy out of the Pentagon business in 2002 followed by the acquisition of the UK fine chemicals
business from Great Lakes in December 2003.
Pentagon won the CIA Skills Award in June 2010 for its continuous commitment to skills and competence.
Laing has been chairman of the Academy's North West Regional Skills Board for the last two years. He is also a member of
the CIA Council, the CEFIC European fine chemicals group board and is chairman of the Agrochemical & Intermediates
Round 5 of NSAs
The Business Plan proposing the extension of the Academy to cover the emerging process industry sectors of Biotechnology
and Advanced Composites was submitted to the Skills Funding Agency on 30th September. A Review Panel meets on 25th
November and if a positive outcome is reached there should be a Ministerial announcement shortly after 29 th November
onwards. The extended Academy would establish separate ‘hubs’ with specialists to support the skills requirements for
Biotechnology and Advanced Composites.
Tees Valley Apprenticeship Programme
The TVAP continues to extend support apprentices from the Process and Engineering Sectors across the Tees Valley that are
either redundant or at risk of redundancy. In addition new contacts are being made with employers in the sub-region to
hopefully assign apprenticeships. The TVAP has recruited Mark Snell, ex-NEPIC to act as Sector Specialist for the Project.
The Academy’s Skills Assurance process, whereby a company’s workforce capability is assessed against the independently-
verified industry Gold Standard is attracting interest from several major companies including BASF, SABIC, Sembcorp, Astra-
Zeneca, Piramal Healthcare, etc.
Process Safety Management Project – Joint Venture with the CIA
Allan Laing will Chair a Project Board to oversee what we believe will be THE skills project in the chemical industry in 2011.
The Project Board will meet on 1st December and will direct an Expert Panel and Project Team, including colleagues from the
HSE, CIA, Cogent Sector Skills Council and the Academy. This management structure will assist companies with their needs
and priorities, ensure technical excellence where it is required and help deliver the improvement projects across the industry.
Our top priority will be the development and adoption by industry of a series of Training Standards in Process Safety
Management, which will sit within Cogent’s Gold Standard competency framework. An announcement is expected from Steve
Elliott at the CIA Annual Dinner in London on 18th November.
The Academy has secured a ‘foot in the door’ of Alliance Boots and its partner, Boots Contract Manufacturing (BCM) with an
initial meeting scheduled for 15th November at the Beeston Site. It is hoped that the Academy can secure a Business
Partnership with BCM, which will be the first of its kind in the ‘Consumer Chemicals’ sector and will hopefully lead to similar
arrangements with others such as Proctor & Gamble, Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser, etc. BCM and the parent company Alliance
Boots has an interest in not only the ‘standard’ package of skills consultancy available from the Academy, but also in the
development of skills for Biotechnology as the Company invests in isolating and enhancing materials from sustainable sources
– for example, anti-aging cream from algae !
The Academy’s Executive continues to work with the Board to ensure we enter 2011 in a sustainable manner, irrespective of
the outcome of the Round 5 bid detailed earlier.
Dr Ian Mains
National Skills Academy Process Industries
16th November 2010