London: Indian-origin steel tycoon Sanjeev Gupta has been appointed by Britain's Prince Charles as an official ambassador for the Industrial Cadets programme designed to nurture manufacturing skills.
Mr Gupta was appointed to the flagship programme to give children and young people direct structured experience of the industry while still at school or college.
The Industrial Cadets annual awards ceremony was held on Wednesday in London.
"Gupta 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," said the 68-year-old Prince of Wales.
As the Executive Chairman of UK-based GFG Alliance, Mr Gupta has been on an acquisition spree in the steel industry over the past few months which has helped secure hundreds of jobs.
The Industrial Cadets programme, which currently involves more than 15,000 youngsters across the UK, was set up at the behest of the Prince of Wales seven years ago after he visited steel plants at Teesside in north-east England and heard how the manufacturing and engineering sectors were struggling to recruit young people to their ranks.
"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," Mr Gupta said.
His 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, currently support 1,300 cadets from 26 schools across Britain to participate in the scheme, with a target of 5,000 students by next year.
Around 26 GFG executives located at 13 industrial sites in the UK are regularly engaged in organising work placements at their respective plants, helping the youngsters to maximise the benefit they 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 said that the task of ensuring the next generation has the motivation and skills to enable the UK to remain competitive and successful on the world stage in manufacturing as one of the most important tasks facing modern society.
As part of his role as ambassador, the 46-year-old businessman has also been tasked with establishing Industrial Cadets in Australia, where the GFG Alliance already employs 6,000 people in its integrated mining, steel and energy businesses.
The GFG Alliance is a London-headquartered international group of businesses, founded and owned by the UK-based Gupta family.
The vision of GFG Alliance is to promote industrial revival based on low-carbon and sustainable production methods through its GreenAluminium and GreenSteel strategies.
Last month, the group's Liberty Speciality Steels reignited one of the arc furnaces mothballed by Tata Steel in 2015 at the height of the steel crisis in northern England. Liberty, as part of the wider GFG Alliance, has created and safeguarded hundreds of jobs in the steel sector across the UK as a result of a series of acquisitions.