THE man behind Liberty Steel in Newport, Sanjeev Gupta, has been invited by HRH the Prince of Wales to help nurture a new generation of skilled manufacturing workers.

Mr Gupta, the executive chairman of metals, industrials and energy group, the GFG Alliance, has been appointed by Prince Charles as an official HRH Ambassador for Industrial Cadets, the flagship programme designed to give children and young people direct structured experience of industry while still at school or college.

The programme which currently involves more than 15,000 youngsters across the UK, was set up at the behest of His Royal Highness seven years ago after he visited steel plants at Teesside and heard how the manufacturing and engineering sectors were struggling to recruit young people to their ranks.

Industrial Cadets provides young students with high-quality accredited work experience during their years of education in order to give them a real exposure and understanding of industry, with the aim of encouraging them to choose careers in this field.

Mr Gupta’s GFG Foundation is actively involved in funding and promoting the Industrial Cadets programme through a partnership with the Engineering Development Trust. GFG Alliance companies including Liberty House and SIMEC, will be supporting up to 5,000 cadets from schools across the UK over the coming year including four schools in Gwent where the Group has a steel plants at Newport and Tredegar.

Scores of executives from GFG industrial sites are regularly engaged in organising work placements at their respective plants, helping the youngsters to maximise the benefit they the get from time spent in the group’s steelmaking, engineering, power generation and manufacturing facilities. GFG also has an active apprenticeship training programme currently involving more than 100 young people in the UK.

Mr Gupta’s appointment as an official ambassador for the programme was announced during the Industrial Cadets annual awards event in central London yesterday (WED) during which high-performing participants in the programme were personally congratulated by Prince Charles.

His Royal Highness paid tribute to the GFG executive chairman while addressing the audience at the event:

He said: “Sanjeev is doing so much to apply real imagination, innovative thinking and sustainable rejuvenation to our Nation’s heavy industries and I’m thrilled that he, through his GFG Alliance, has so enthusiastically become involved with Industrial Cadets as well.”

Commenting on his new role Mr Gupta said: “It’s a great honour to be invited by His Royal Highness to contribute to one of the most important tasks facing modern society; the task of ensuring our next generation has the motivation and skills to enable us to remain competitive and successful on the world stage in manufacturing. That was the fundamental reason why my wife Nicola and I, set up the GFG Foundation and why GFG Alliance businesses are so actively involved in supporting the scheme.”

He added: “Coming from a family of industrialists I had the opportunity while growing up to spend time in steel works and engineering plants. That left a lasting impression on me and really inspired me to pursue an active career in industry. I see Industrial Cadets fulfilling the same function and am very excited about the impact it is facing.”