Students getting their A-level results today will be contemplating the pros and cons of university, employment, apprenticeships and perhaps even a gap year.
If future opportunities are at the forefront of their thinking they’d do well to take a leaf out of Phil Redfern’s book.
The company he heads up nurtures talent and fast-tracks those who love to think differently when faced with a challenge.
And in terms of giving young people opportunities it absolutely practices what it preaches. Just ask Phil about his own story.
Phil first went to REACT Engineering when he was 18, having just completed his A-levels at the nearby secondary school.
Now, aged just 35, he is not only the company’s managing director, but, earlier this year, he became the majority shareholder.
From gap year, through university, to running the company by his mid-30s is an impressive career journey by anyone’s standards.
But what’s equally striking is Phil’s passion and determination to continue to develop the culture of giving young people a chance, and responsibility at an early stage.
“The sky’s the limit here. There are no barriers to achieving whatever you want to achieve.
“If you want a challenge, if you want responsibility, and you want to be the best you can be, you will flourish here,” says Phil.
“If you like the idea of running your own projects and having people working for you on those projects from an early stage you will enjoy it here.
“If a person has the skills then we want to put them in a role which fits them and also stretches them so they are continually developing.
“We create roles and responsibilities around individuals, rather than recruit individuals for specific roles. It makes for a better, more rewarding career, and a more successful business.
“We create the environment that gives those individuals every chance to express themselves and be successful. You become an integral part of the business here very quickly.
“We like working with people who are prepared to think differently and to come up with a solution when faced with a problem.”
REACT’s speciality is coming up with innovative, smart solutions to complex situations, which might be technically or politically challenging, and to find a way forward.
And that comes down to their people.
An engineering degree, or similar, will help. But just as important in Phil’s view is: “an ability to think quickly on your feet, see the bigger picture and be good at interacting with people”.
REACT has huge experience of working with the nuclear industry around the world – built on its proven track record with Sellafield only a few miles down the road from its Cleator Moor base in Cumbria – and has successfully applied similar thinking to other industries.