WHEN it comes to investing in the future, Tynedale’s largest employer is one of the North-East’s front-runners.

A total of 10 per cent of its 600 members of staff at Egger’s Hexham plant have come through the firm’s apprenticeship programme or are currently on the scheme.

So impressive is the scheme run by Egger that Keith Robson, a training provider for the past 11 years, was enticed to work with the apprentices at the firm on a full-time basis after his experiences with the company.

He said: “I worked with companies across the North-East and the programme here is second to none and it’s one of the best in the region.”

As Egger, which has plants across Europe, marked its 35th anniversary since opening in Hexham, the company’s first UK factory, it was seen as a shining example to other local employers in investing in young people coming through the ranks.

Sam Hannant is in the third year of his four-year scheme, and spoke highly of the guidance he has received.

The former pupil at Hexham’s Queen Elizabeth High School said: “It’s a big place and there is a lot going on, but you get settled in and it’s a nice place to work.”

Tony Trueman, formerly of Prudhoe High School, was halfway through a two-year programme working in the lab, and he similarly hoped to secure a permanent job at the end of the course.

He said: “From day one, everyone was kind and considerate especially when some of those training us had been apprentices themselves.”