YORKSHIRE Water is recruiting 160 apprentices over the next five years to help it meet a predicted skills gap in ten years time.

The utility company is hoping the new recruits will follow in the footsteps of other apprentices such as George Cowell, 22, of Selby, who is now responsible for 50 miles of coastline from Staithes to Flamborough as a network performance engineer.

He joined the company instead of going to university and spent two years as an apprentice with Yorkshire Water gaining the qualification and experience he needs for his current role.

“I’m really enthusiastic about my role – it’s fast-paced and no two days are the same," he said. "I oversee the work of five people and I look forward to seeing how my career develops at Yorkshire Water and the opportunities that may arise."

Richard Flint, Yorkshire Water's chief executive officer, 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."

The company is concerned that without the new apprentices, it could be among utility companies facing a skills gaps in 2025 caused by an ageing workforce and other factors. It will start the recruitment in May.