APPRENTICE hopefuls have taken a trip to a Northumberland surface mine to help determine if they will be hired.
Earlier this year, Banks Mining announced that it was forming a partnership with Northumberland College to appoint three apprentice mechanics and a trainee welder to work at its Shotton and Brenkley Lane opencast sites near Blagdon.
Following an open day to discuss the programme with candidates, 32 applicants were invited to visit the Shotton mine as part of an on-site assessment.
They were told about the work, training and equipment and managers talked to the candidates about their skills, experience and qualifications.
A final interview shortlist is now being drawn up and the successful four applicants are expected to begin their apprenticeships this month.
Banks Plant Assets Manager John Welsh said: “Bringing these young people 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 also gave us a chance to see and speak to them.
“We’ve attracted a really high calibre of candidate and choosing a shortlist for interview, let alone identifying the successful candidates, is going to be a very difficult task.
“As a major employer in south east Northumberland, we feel that 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 whilst they’re working with us, but throughout their working lives.”
The partners have spent two years developing the apprenticeships, which will include a two-year training programme and on-site work, offering qualification up to NVQ Level 3.
Specialist equipment has also been provided by Banks for the college, such as engines, hydraulic systems and excavator buckets.
College Director of Business Development and Partnerships Mark Bolton said: “Working with a wide range of regional employers to help meet their apprenticeship and staff training needs is a core part of the work that Northumberland College undertakes and the bespoke programme we have developed with Banks will provide a fantastic opportunity for the successful candidates to take the first steps on a successful career.”