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Careers Spotlight: a Future in Chemical Engineering

30 November 2023

Chemicals are an essential component of a huge range of industries and products. From transport to food production, healthcare to construction, chemicals and chemical engineering play an important part in many parts of our lives.

General sharers chemical engineering

Did you know – the Humber is the 2nd largest chemical production cluster in the UK, and 1% of all jobs in Hull and East Yorkshire are in the chemicals sector?

Take a look at this poster from Skills Hull and East Yorkshire showing the opportunities within the chemicals industry both in this region and around the UK.


There is ample opportunity to work in the chemical sector in the Humber region. Aside from training our own students and graduates to work in this important and dynamic sector, we also have people who relocate to the area because of the array of opportunities that this region offers.

One professional who moved to the Humber region to work in the chemicals sector is Jack Watson who works as a Research Engineer at INEOS Acetyls. We are talking to Jack to find out more about his career journey so far.


Hi Jack, thank you for talking to us. What does INEOS Acetyls do?

INEOS is a global producer of petrochemicals, speciality chemicals and energy. The INEOS Acetyls business in Hull is the largest producer of acetic acid, acetic anhydride and ethyl acetate in Europe. These chemicals are key building blocks for a huge range of industries we all rely upon in our everyday lives, including the renewable power, automotive, textile, pharmaceuticals and packaging sectors.

What do you do at INEOS Acetyls?

As a chemical engineer, I work closely with chemists and engineers, and our number one priority is around ensuring our experimental units are designed and operated safely; the whole business is committed to maintaining the highest standards of health and safety. My main role is in the design and modification of research scale equipment. Our research equipment is used to support day-to-day analysis of our chemicals and for plant improvement projects.

I’ve recently been working on the design and installation of a new experimental rig. This innovative rig allows us to carry out experiments which help us understand the reaction kinetics of one of the processes we use to make our chemicals. This project is a great example of having an impact on innovative projects from day 1 – accelerating my learning and developing my skills as soon as I arrived!

How did you come to be in the Humber?

I moved from Scotland to the Humber region to begin my career as a chemical engineer at INEOS Acetyls following my Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering. The Humber region is a giant in the chemicals industry, offering many opportunities for chemical engineers at world-class facilities, such as INEOS.

This is my first job upon graduating; however, I did complete a 6-month industrial placement during my final year of studies. This experience made the transition into my role at INEOS much smoother.

Jack w3

What’s your favourite part of the job?

The thing I find best about working for INEOS Acetyls is getting to work on a diverse range of projects with an array of people across various teams. It's great getting to see projects go from initial development right through to completion.

Every day at work is different, and everyone is friendly and always willing to lend a hand, which is a great benefit for someone like me who is new to the industry.

There is a real sense of rigor across the business, with employees getting stuck in, no questions asked, but also willing to help whenever it’s needed. We have so many talented people within the business; it’s an ideal place to start a career.

What advice would you give to other people looking to follow a career in the chemicals industry?

I think it’s important to gain some insight into what chemical engineers do daily; a great way to do this is by reaching out to local companies and trying to arrange work experience. You should also scope out which route to becoming a chemical engineer is best for you and how you learn.

A job at a large chemicals business like INEOS is a great place to begin your career. You will get the opportunity to carry out fundamental chemical engineering work and gain a vast amount of experience. And finally, stay up to date with latest field developments – particularly the hydrogen energy movement and decarbonisation.

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