As the latest batch of contenders vie for their big break with Lord Sugar on BBC1’s The Apprentice, a dozen young people are hoping to secure one of three apprenticeships on offer at opencast mines near Cramlington.
The 12 candidates are taking part in an on-site assessment programme being run by Banks Mining to select its latest intake of apprentices.
The firm, part of the County Durham-based Banks Group, has joined forces with Northumberland College to identify contenders for apprenticeships at its Shotton and Brenkley Lane mines.
After holding an initial open day about the scheme, 12 applicants were selected to take a two-week course at the Ashington college looking at topics including health and safety, team-building and working on site.
The candidates were then shown around the Shotton surface mine and given talks by bosses there.
All the potential apprentices will be asked to give presentations on what they’ve learned, and Banks is looking to appoint the three chosen for the apprenticeships within the next few weeks.
About 140 people work at the Shotton site, alongside a further 60 at Brenkley Lane.
The Banks Group and the college have been working together since the firm took on its first round of apprentices in 2012.
John Welsh, plant assets manager for the company, said: “As one of Northumberland’s largest private-sector employers, we feel we have a responsibility to provide training and development opportunities for local young people who want to make their way in the world, and to help them gain skills that will not only serve them well while they’re working with us, but right through their working lives.
“Bringing our candidates onto the Shotton site gave them a chance to get a close-up look at the sort of work they’d be doing and the environment in which they’d be doing it, and it also gave us a chance to see and speak to them too.
“The training that our present apprentices have received has given them the foundations on which to build successful careers, and there’ll be every opportunity for our new recruits to follow them down this path.”