The CEO of Reckitt, the world’s leading consumer health, hygiene and nutrition business, has visited Hull’s Ron Dearing University Technical College (UTC), reinforcing the company’s commitment to the region and its partnership with the pioneering school.
Laxman Narasimhan and Tony Danker, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), together with other Reckitt senior executives, met Ron Dearing UTC principal Sarah Pashley and students at the employer-led school following a visit to Reckitt’s factory and R&D facilities in Hull.
They were joined on the visit by CBI leaders, including chief UK policy director Matthew Fell and Beckie Hart, regional director, Yorkshire and the Humber.
Reckitt’s rich history and heritage in Hull stretches back to 1840 when Isaac Reckitt founded a starch mill on the site in Dansom Lane where the business operates to this day.
From those humble beginnings Reckitt has grown to become the company behind many well-known household products, such as Dettol, Airwick, Lemsip, Gaviscon, Nurofen, Veet and Durex. The company employs more than 40,000 people in over 60 countries, including more than 1,500 in Hull.
In recent years Reckitt has invested £200 million in the city, including the opening in December 2019 of a state-of-the-art Science and Innovation Centre and significant upgrades to manufacturing facilities.
Reckitt has also shown its commitment to developing a new pipeline of scientific and technical talent in the region through a number of education initiatives, including being an active founding partner of Ron Dearing UTC.
As a founding partner, Reckitt helps to shape the curriculum, sets real-life industry projects for students to work on, offers guidance, advice and mentorship to learners as they prepare for the world of work or university, and provides work experience and apprenticeship opportunities.
Reckitt is prominent among a host of leading local employers that are partners of Ron Dearing UTC and have played a critical role in the school’s success, including being judged “outstanding” in all areas by Ofsted.
Mr Narasimhan, who described Hull as the birthplace of Reckitt and Dettol, was joined during the visit to the school in Kingston Square, Hull city centre, by senior global leaders and Hull-based executives, including Jeremy Wood, who heads up the flagship manufacturing facility, and Dr Bruce Charlesworth, Reckitt chief medical officer, Health, and Hull R&D site lead, who is also a governor of Ron Dearing UTC.
The Reckitt and CBI visitors met students in Ron Dearing UTC’s Reckitt Innovation Centre and took part in a wide-ranging question and answer session exploring the school’s education model, how it works with leading local employers, and how it develops a pipeline of young people with high demand digital, scientific, engineering and creative skills and qualifications.
The students also quizzed the Reckitt team on a wide range of issues, including how the company has responded to the pandemic, by keeping its staff safe while ramping up supply of vital hygiene products such as Dettol.
Dr Charlesworth said: “The Hull site is of critical importance to the Reckitt business – not only from the perspective of what we do today in developing and manufacturing an array of household products, but also in terms of our heritage and local legacy.
“The visit by our CEO and members of the executive committee to our factory, R&D facilities and Ron Dearing UTC demonstrates the value we place on people, talent and building skills.
“As a proud founding partner, we are committed to improving education and a strong advocate of employer involvement that results in improved employability skills.
“Our relationship with the UTC is a win-win, as evidenced by the calibre of talent the school develops and the fact that we benefit from UTC-educated apprentices in our workforce today. It’s a best practice education model.”
Ms Pashley said: “It was a pleasure to host this visit by Mr Narasimhan and his colleagues. We’re very proud of our partnership with a world-class business that was founded in Hull and continues to invest so strongly in the city.
“The support and commitment of Reckitt and our other employer partners is critical to our successful educational model. They are actively involved in the school at all levels, from leadership and governance to curriculum design and delivery.
“We’re particularly delighted that our very close relationship with Reckitt has enabled a number of Ron Dearing UTC students to join a global business at the cutting edge of scientific research, development and innovation.”