Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry has brought his vision for the North to Cumbria.

Based on the success of his recent Powerhouse Live: Tour of the North, Mr Berry visited Cumbrian firms this morning to talk to the Cumbrian workforce.

His first port of call was Forth Engineering at Maryport, before going on to meet apprentices at the Gen2 training facility at Lillyhall.

The Northern Powerhouse is designed to drive economic growth in the north via investments in skills, innovation, transport and culture.

Jake Berry, Northern Powerhouse Minister, said: “The Northern Powerhouse is all about ensuring economies like Cumbria are able to achieve their full potential, by working together with other towns, cities and rural communities.

“To learn about the challenges and opportunities in the area, from those who live and work here, has helped us understand how the Northern Powerhouse can support local and national economic growth in the area.

“Sellafield clearly plays a huge role already in the north’s economy, employing more than 11,000 people and spending more than £1.1bn a year in the supply chain.

“It is encouraging to see first hand how small businesses like Forth Engineering are diversifying away from the nuclear industry, and I am impressed by the range of high quality apprenticeships being developed here.”

As well touring the facility, Mr Berry was quizzed by Gen 2 apprentices on a range of issues, including Brexit and the future of Moorside.

Speaking at the question-and-answer session, he said: "We remain as a government absolutely 100 per cent committed to nuclear forming part of our energy generation make up here in the UK.

"Decisions like Moorside are long-term decisions, very complicated, which when we're using the taxpayers' money to support the development, we have to make sure we get value for money.

"The latest on it is the Government continues to work with partners on the future delivery of Moorside.

"For your career, it probably looks like decommissioning for decades then new nuclear. It doesn't have to arrive today to protect your career because it's such a long term investment.

"Decommissioning followed by new nuclear will guarantee you a great career in this region. What an exciting time to be starting your career."

Mr Berry said that Brexit was a "big opportunity" for the north.

He said: "Brexit is important so the whole country can compete with the world and that is why you will find an unwavering commitment from the Government to ensure Brexit succeeds.

"In the north we don't need the south, we've proved over the last 50 years that we can just get on with our lives but the south needs the north now and that's why we are perfectly placed to take advantage of it."

Jamie Reed, head of community and development for Sellafield Ltd, said: “It was fantastic to welcome Jake to the area to see first-hand the unlimited potential of our fabulous county. It's been an opportunity to showcase everything we've got to offer here.

“Sellafield has always been a powerhouse in its own right, but our greatest challenge is ensuring we leave a positive legacy for our community.

“This is why we joined the Northern Powerhouse, to rebalance the economy away from London and the South East and connect Cumbria with other northern towns and cities.

"This is something Sellafield and our partners are totally committed to. Together we can create diverse and resilient communities and drive the economic future of the country.

“This is something Sellafield can not do alone, and this visit has highlighted that as businesses, councils, trade unions and politicians, we are all responsible for overcoming the challenges we face."

Forth Engineering was founded in 2000 by former Sellafield apprentice, Mark Telford.

He said: “The Minister was interested to learn how having Sellafield on our doorstep has given us a testbed to develop unique skills and technologies, which we are now transferring into other industries.

“Our workers also appreciated the opportunity to find out more about the Northern Powerhouse and how it might help create more jobs and opportunities in our region."

Mr Berry travelled on to visit innovative Ulverston firm, Oxley Group in the afternoon.

The company designs and manufactures LED lighting, night vision and electronic components for major companies across the world including Boeing and Airbus.

Copeland MP Trudy Harrison joined Mr Berry on the tour.

She said: "There is nowhere better in the UK to lead on the colossal nuclear decommissioning export opportunities, than Cumbria.

“Forth is a brilliant example, they’re taking their amphibious remotely operated vehicles into highly irradiated complex environments to minimise human interaction, accelerating the clean-up mission, safely.

“I want Government to make export easier, to work with our many specialist companies, to help them export.

“Nuclear new build is a national need, I’m committed to Moorside for the benefit of West Cumbria, the industry and the country and I want to ensure vital projects like West Cumbria Mining go ahead.”

Next month, Cumbria’s six MPs will meet with the Korean Ambassador to the UK in Westminster to continue to press for progress for the £15 billion nuclear new build at Moorside.

Mrs Harrison also plans to host the first Moorside Strategic Partnership meeting, bringing together key industry figures and Government officials in Whitehaven next month.

She has also written to Dr Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for Trade, ahead of his visit to Korea, about Moorside.