Waste champions of the future have been inspired at the prospect of a career in the industry – and it is with the help of local accents. 

J&B Recycling MD Vikki Jackson-Smith and HR Manager Anne White spoke to around 300 pupils at a special careers fair in the Tees Valley. 

And it’s by hearing their local accents – and seeing their success stories – that students are helped to consider a future in the sector says John Riddell, Education Manager at the Prince of Wales’ charity Business In The Community (BITC) which organised the fair supported by J&B for the past two years.  

Each participating Year 10 and Year 11 pupil at Hartlepool’s Dyke House Sports and Technology College had the opportunity to speak with business professionals to gain an insight to a potential career in each industry.

John said: “We get businesses involved in the community in all sorts of ways – but one of the most successful and with the biggest impact is when we help businesses to get involved with schools and J&B has been fabulous for this. 

“Children can hear inspiring people with local accents – accents that they recognise. 

“Pupils from certain groups are also helped to see their potential. 

“For example, Vikki is the manager of a very successful business, with a strong diverse team driving the business to achieve its goals of being the best in the recycling process industry.   

“The fact that Vikki has encouraged and promoted successful women into management and board level positions is a fabulous message for teenage girls at this event and gives high aspirations. 

“All this can have a great impact. Teachers can talk until they’re blue in face but this way the message is better received.”  

Thanks to J&B’s continued support, the students at Dyke House have also benefitted from a number of other BITC projects including careers ‘speed dating’ and careers awareness workshops. 

Vikki said: “Thinking about careers early on is so important – not every student has the support outside of school to guide them into potential career paths and understand the importance of relevant qualifications and the best approach to follow for their desired career route. They need as much information as possible to make their own way. 

“If talking to these pupils helps just one student consider the levels of skills required for a future in our industry then I think that’s fantastic and encouraging for us particularly when we are currently recruiting for skilled and technical apprentices in our business to achieve our growth plans.  

J&B Recycling employs around 200 staff across three sites in Hartlepool and Middlesbrough. 

Vikki transformed her father’s solid fuel distribution company into a waste management and recycling specialist that now boasts a £16m turnover.

The company recently was awarded Business of the Year at the Tees Businesswoman Awards.