During an intensive one week induction programme the apprentices
gained their SHEA Gas Passport which is essential to work in the
gas industry. Training covered key elements such as health and
safety, first aid and drug and alcohol awareness sessions.
The apprentices who are employed by five companies, AHUS,
Utilergy, USS, CMW and Butler's Construction are following the
Level 2 Gas Industry Apprenticeship framework and will attend
college on a block release basis, four weeks per year, at a time
convenient to the business needs.
Laura Laidlow, Business Development Officer at Northumberland
College said: "This is a new partnership between Northumberland
College and Northern Gas Networks, whereby the college advertised
the Apprenticeship vacancies, carried out pre-screening and
shortlisted candidates for vacancies in both the North East and
"Over 100 candidates applied for the positions, the college
selected the 50 strongest applications and invited them to complete
Pre-Apprenticeship training with our employability team. Fourteen
were successful in gaining employment in the North East, with a
further six employed in Leeds, who will complete their training
with Leeds College of Building."
The apprentices are aged between 17 and 24 and are from all over
Northumberland, Newcastle and as far as Carlisle.
Graham Edgar, aged 20 from Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, has been
employed by AHUS and will be working as an apprentice service layer
for Northern Gas Networks, replacing gas services from steel to
Graham said: "When I found out that I was successful gaining the
job I was over the moon, especially when I found out how many
others were in the running for it. I grabbed the opportunity with
both hands and I'm looking forward to proving myself.
"The induction programme was very interesting, I've learnt a lot
and it shows the progression opportunities are there if you work
Bill Lilburn, Utilities Lecturer at Northumberland College,
said: "These apprentices are an enthusiastic group and are really
excited about the challenges ahead.
"The gas industry is high risk industry, driven by health and
safety. Their induction programme has covered mandatory units that
they needed to pass before starting in their new roles. The
apprentices are adapting well to techniques and understanding
Gareth Bullen, Director of inspire Academy, NGN's training and
development department, commented: "We're passionate about
employing, supporting and training local talent. The majority
of NGN's essential gas mains replacement work is now delivered by
small, locally run engineering firms and it has huge advantages for
our business. Investment stays in the area, we gain a
flexible, responsive workforce who are embedded in the communities
where we work, and we deliver improved customer service.
"We're delighted to be able to work with Northumberland College
and support these apprentices as they embark on their engineering
Northumberland College offers over 40 apprenticeship frameworks
and works with over 700 businesses across the region.
Prospective apprentices are encouraged to attend one of the
college's regular open events, while employers can find out more by
Northern Gas Networks supply gas to around 2.7 million
households and businesses in the North East, Northern Cumbria and
much of Yorkshire, transporting it through a network of underground
The photo shows the group of apprentices at Northumberland
College, Graham Edgar is front centre (holding tools), Laura
Laidlaw is directly behind him. Lecturer Bill Lilburn is third from
right in orange jacket.