A NEW centre dedicated to creating the next generation of electricians has opened in York.

JTL Training Centre in Outgang Lane, on Osbaldwick Industrial Estate, was officially launched on Friday following a £500,000 investment.

The not-for-profit, work-based training provider helps to fill the skills gaps in traditional trades, and has almost 8,000 apprentices working with JTL for more than 3,500 employers across both England and Wales.

The Lord Mayor of York, Cllr Janet Looker, was invited to cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony and meet some of the first-year apprentices who are all aligned to an employer from the outset.

Among those was 17-year-old Hamish Innes, from Huntington, whose apprenticeship is with Tower Electrics.

"I wanted to do something practical," he said. "It is obviously a career rather than a job, and it is a good opportunity. The more I learn the more interesting it gets."

Former York College student Tobias Shaw, aged 18, of Huntington, said he was already thoroughly enjoying his apprenticeship with Portakabin. "It is going very well. I love it," he said. "I have always been interested in electrics and it is a really good trade to get into."

JTL chief executive Jon Graham said: "We are really excited about the York centre. We hope it will help employ many young people in the area and help employers with skills that are desperately needed. Our motto is to build futures and change lives. The apprenticeships we run are doing that.

“We now have about 12 centres around the country and around 115 partnerships. We are an educational charity. We were formed in 1990 by the trade unions and trade associations. We operate in building services. Not only do we help with recruiting our apprentices but when they come into the JTL fold, we manage the four-year apprenticeship and work closely with the employers.

“This is our 30th year coming up. Currently we have almost 8,000 apprentices on our books in England and Wales. We have a market share of 40 per cent of electrical apprenticeships.

“We are pleased to be able to invite local employers in at any point to see what we do."

City of York Council’s business engagement adviser Bob Watmore who attended the event said: “This is a welcome and great investment for the city, and a fantastic centre. To site it in a small industrial estate is spot on, because their customers could literally be across the road.

“There are a lot of really good apprenticeships where apprentices are in the passenger seat of a sole trader van because it is an excellent way to learn your trade.”

Cathie Foster, head of marketing and communications at JTL, said: “It is important that parents, guardians and career advisers ensure that young people get to hear and understand about apprenticeships. Schools are not particularly good at promoting them but you have to tell young people all the options available to them.

"The more we can encourage young people from this area to look at other options, especially if they have practical skills, the better.

"Becoming an electrician, or plumbing and heating engineer isn't necessarily an easy option."

She added: “A lot of electrical companies are SMEs. They are not massive companies. If they are small family business it is nice to pass on those skills. And you can train your apprentice electrician in your own way of working. You can mould them into what you want to benefit your company."

Some of the employers working with JTL were at the launch, including Rob Fowler, of Edmundson Electrical, which supplies the centre with equipment used for training.

“Without centres like this we have no development within the industry," he said. "Electricity isn’t going anywhere. We need people to fit it. It is not something you can get an app for. This centre is a great opportunity.”

Jackie Rankin, JTL regional business manager for Yorkshire and the North East, added: “It is a fabulous place, very impressive, and I am sure we will see a lot of success with the young electricians coming through the ranks.”