A NORTH-EAST training provider has carried out work to support the next generation of engineers.

South West Durham Training (SWDT) visited the Engineering Past Present and Future at Shildon's National Railway Museum to work with students and ignite their passion for the industry.

The North-East is expected to lose up to 8,500 engineers to retirement by 2016.

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However, Hitachi Rail Europe will start building trains in Newton Aycliffe in 2016, creating 730 jobs, while chassis maker Gestamp Tallent plans to create 320 posts.

The training event included a number of activities, including balloon locomotives, which urged youngsters to build air powered vehicles.

Trevor Alley, SWDT chief executive, said it was important to get students interested in engineering.

He said: “Promoting careers in the engineering sector is extremely important, especially at a time when the North East generally, and Newton Aycliffe, specifically, are experiencing really exciting growth provided by Hitachi and its supply chain.”

Neil Mawson, SWDT vocational trainer and assessor, added: “The event saw schools from across the North-East invited to bring groups of pre and post 16 students to explore the future of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) with the hope of increasing their career choices and chances.

“As a STEM ambassador, I was thrilled to offer students a taster of a future career in engineering by allowing them to explore engineering design and the problems associated with the design and manufacture process of air powered vehicles.

“I was really impressed by the entries and many students showcased a promising career in the engineering sector.”