Yorkshire Water is set to create 160 apprenticeships over the next five years in the biggest scheme of its kind ever launched by the company.

The majority of the new positions will be in operational roles as Yorkshire Water looks to recruit the next generation of skilled colleagues to be at the heart of providing a crucial service to millions of people around the region.

Recruitment for the roles will start in May.

It comes as figures show that almost one in five 18-24 year olds across Yorkshire are not in education, employment or training.

The new skilled recruits will also ensure Yorkshire Water is prepared for a skills gap being predicted in the utility sector by 2025, partly caused by an ageing workforce.

Richard Flint, Yorkshire Water chief executive, said: “Many people may not be aware just what a diverse range of skills we have within the company – from qualified engineers to geologists to our talented operators.

“In fact, we have some of the most skilled colleagues that you’ll find in any industry and it’s so important to us as a business that we look to preserve this specialist knowledge for the future.

“That’s why we are delighted to announce these 160 apprenticeships. It’s great news for young people and for the Yorkshire economy. Ours is a company that invests in its people and, having joined as a graduate myself, I know there are endless opportunities to progress and develop here.”

While there will be a variety of opportunities in a number of different areas, the Bradford-based company said the focus will be on skilled operational roles to prepare for the retirement of colleagues currently in those positions. This will ensure the technical capability remains high in Yorkshire Water’s workforce and the company’s reliable service continues.

The latest recruitment drive from Yorkshire Water will be on the back of recruiting 59 apprentices over the past five years.

Recent recruits include Jess Rickett, who joined Yorkshire Water’s four-year multi-skilled apprenticeship scheme as a 16-year-old straight out of school in 2012.

Jess Rickett, who is on Yorkshire Water's four-year multi-skilling apprentice scheme
 

Although she grew up and went to school in Bradford, Jess spent much of her first year working on Yorkshire Water sites in Halifax and is now based in the Huddersfield area. Her work now involves routine maintenance at Yorkshire Water sites in Huddersfield, Barnsley, Sheffield and Wakefield as well as responding to emergency issues.

She said: “I wanted to join this scheme because it’s given me the chance to do something a bit different that not many girls get into. I’m learning valuable skills every day and getting the chance to put them into practice. It really feels like I’m doing something which is important for Yorkshire Water.”