An innovative scheme to help Cumbria prepare for the future will see 50 new apprenticeships created for small companies.

Funded by Sellafield Ltd, candidates could begin training next month as part of the North West Nuclear Community Apprenticeship Programme, the first scheme of its kind in the UK.

Training offered will cover professions from customer services, property maintenance and scaffolding, to logistics and horticulture.

Small companies will be identified as host employers in the coming months, and will be matched to apprentices as they are recruited.

The training is fully funded by Sellafield Ltd on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, and includes the wage costs for the first year of each apprenticeship.

Les Studholme, head of training for Sellafield, said: “The mission at Sellafield is changing, and while we need new skills to drive forward our environmental clean-up, we are also helping to build a diverse and resilient supply chain and thriving economy.

“Investments like this will change lives and help create a future for local people and businesses that goes far beyond the nuclear industry.

“The training has been designed to address the specific skills shortages faced by Cumbria and provide local people with accessible paths to professional qualifications and fulfilling employment.”

This scheme is particularly aimed at supporting students who have been unable to access apprenticeships through traditional routes.

Developed by Sellafield Ltd, the programme will be delivered and managed independently by the Cumbria Apprentice Training Agency, with training delivered by a number of leading Cumbrian providers including Gen2 and Lakes College.

Sellafield Ltd is the first in the UK to run the scheme, which could then be rolled out all over the country.

It is supported by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Engineering Construction Industry Training Board, Nuclear Skills Strategy Group, Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership and Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster.