Tata steelworks takes on 66 male apprentices at Scunthorpe - and one girl
The Tata Steel works in Scunthorpe has taken on apprentices for the fifth successive year, in a major vote of confidence in the future of the local industry.
The move follows previous concerns raised by the trade unions over the town's ageing 4,000 employees – many of whom are aged 50 and over.
Sixty-seven trainees have been taken on by Tata, thanks in part to financial backing from the state-run regional growth programme.
That programme will pay for 33 apprentices to work for the Humberside Engineering Training Association (HETA) – the company responsible for delivering training at the Scunthorpe works on-site centre.
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They will do this for their first year before taking up apprenticeship positions with other companies.
The only girl among the 67 trainees is Jessica Minnis, 16, who has her sights set on becoming a laboratory technician with Tata Steel.
The former student at Scunthorpe's St Bede's Academy said: "I enjoyed chemistry at school so this was a natural choice for me. But it's a big strange because at St Bede's there were more girls in my class than boys. But I am getting used to it."
The proudest apprentice on parade was Matthew Aitkin, 16, a former student at Frederick Gough School.
Matthew explained his dad Phil, uncle Rob and brothers Daniel and Josh currently worked for Tata Steel and he was the fourth generation of the family to do so.
This new initiative seeks to develop vital skills in the area and is being supported locally by a grant provided by the Northern Lincolnshire regional growth fund.
Karl Fenney, the technical training delivery manager at Tata Steel, said: "Tata Steel is committed to investing in the long-term sustainability of the business and for that we need to train the next generation of engineers and technicians."
Eric Collis, the general manager of HETA, said: "The regional growth fund allocation to train advanced apprentices in engineering is an absolute winner for everyone in the local area.
"North Lincolnshire Council, Tata Steel and HETA will work together to deliver first class industrial engineering skills to more than 30 young people for each of the next two years.
"As a result, almost 70 young engineers will get well paid jobs in the region's rapidly growing power and manufacturing industry."