Flynn Gilmour, Greg Smith, Jackie Petford
July 14, 2021

Alpek Polyester is a subsidiary of Alpek, S.A.B. de C.V. the petrochemicals business of Alfa S.A.B. de C.V., one of Mexico’s largest corporations.

It is a global producer, supplying 29 countries, with annual sales in excess of $19 billion.

Based on a 64-acre manufacturing facility at Wilton, it produces in excess of 230,000 tonnes of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) resin every year.

  • Employs: 102
  • Apprentices: 7

Jackie Petford, Human Resources & Organisational Development Manager, answered some questions about how Alpek Polyester approach apprenticeships.

Have you won any Apprenticeship Awards?
  • Winner of NE Small Employer of the Year 2018
  • NEPIC Apprentice of the Year
  • TVPT Year 4 Apprentice Award

Have you employed apprentices in the past?

Alpek has a proud history of investing in apprenticeships, having been an ex-ICI business.  Since the re-formation in 2010, we have invested in more than 30 apprentices, with 25 gaining full-time employment with Alpek. Despite the business changing in both ownership and size, apprenticeships have always remained integral to the company’s strategy. 

What apprenticeships do you currently offer?


  • Science Manufacturing Technician
  • Science Industry Maintenance Technician

In which departments do you offer apprenticeships?

We offer apprenticeships covering engineering (electrical, mechanical and instrument) and also covering process technicians, all within our Plant Operations Team. 

Why choose apprenticeships?

We chose to recruit apprentices as it’s been a very successful strategy for us in the past.  We have a philosophy within Alpek Polyester of “growing our own” and this has paid dividends, with a number of management positions now filled by ex-apprentices.   Apprentices bring fresh perspective and energy to the business and, in turn, we give them a safe environment to develop.

How do you recruit apprentices?

We do this through Find an Apprenticeship, partnering with Cogent Skills, the North East Apprenticeship Ambassador Network, social media and internal comms.

What business benefits have apprentices brought?

As a mature organisation, the age demographic is concentrated typically towards the end of an individual’s working life. While apprentices are not our only strategy, having them as an integral part of the organisation is vital to addressing the issue and ensures we have individuals ready to step into roles as needed; thus ensuring a robust organisation for the future. Investing in young people is integral to the company’s CSR strategy, demonstrated by its investment in apprenticeships and other initiatives.  During in-depth succession planning, it was evident that investment in apprenticeships and the success of the programmes has resulted in Alpek being able to maintain, and in some ways improve, the skills of our Process and Engineering Teams.  In a large number of areas, we have an extremely competent, highly-skilled pipeline of individuals that will be the future of the business. The apprentices bring a new dynamic and energy to teams, evident in how quickly they become integral members of the Alpek family.

What do you offer apprentices?

Our strategy is to employ apprentices from Day 1, helping us to develop them from the start of their journey. This has proven successful, given the number of apprentices who excel academically as well as, in the recent past, winning on more than one occasion, awards such as NEPIC Apprentice of the Year and TVPT Year 4 Award. We continuously train apprentices in all necessary SHE training, ensuring they are carrying out their role to the highest standard. On completion of their apprenticeship, providing they have met our values and behaviours, they would be offered secured employment within our organisation if there is a role available.

What qualifications can your apprentices achieve?
  • Level 3 intermediate for SMT
  • Level 3 intermediate plus HNC for SIMT

Will you recruit more apprentices in the future?

Yes, definitely.  We are currently seeking another three this year. We see the value of apprentices as they become an integral part of our workforce, bringing new ideas and enthusiasm, as well as helping the organisations age demographic profile.

Would you recommend apprenticeships to others?

Without a doubt, especially if the company pays the Apprenticeship Levy!

Apprenticeships are a valuable way to develop a workforce. Apprenticeships give aspiring young people in all industries the real life work experience they need and is an excellent way to gain experience and recognised qualifications, as well as earning a wage! After completing an apprenticeship, people are essentially “work ready”, providing an immediate return on your investment.


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