AN apprentice is using his scientific background to safeguard the future of one of the region's well-known manufacturers.

Milo John is one of only a few laboratory apprentices there have ever been at CF Fertilisers’ Billingham site, at the heart of Teesside’s chemical and process industry.

The 18-year-old from Stockton, a learner at TTE Technical Institute, is being trained to play a crucial testing role for the manufacturer that will continue the near 100 year heritage at the site, which employs 205 people.

He is learning a set of highly specialised laboratory skills that only a handful of people know – including the ability to test the quality and consistency of products the firm uses when making fertilisers sold to farmers.

He said: “I always knew I wanted to do an apprenticeship because I was keen to start working and earning as soon as possible.

“When I saw the advert for a laboratory apprentice I wasn’t sure what it would involve but I can honestly say that I’ve loved it.

“A typical day for me could include going out on the site to take samples, running tests in the labs and getting training on specialist equipment.”

He has been nominated for TTE’s Apprentice of the Year award.

Milo, who studied triple science at school, completed a one-year instrumentation course at TTE before starting his two-year apprenticeship, which he will finish this summer.

As part of his work he also helps to monitor the quality of CO2 produced by the firm, a key by-product that is supplied to the drinks industry to make beers and soft drinks fizzy.

One of the people helping Milo learn the ropes is 22-year-old Courtney Whitfield, a former TTE apprentice and now qualified chemist.

She added: “Milo is a superb apprentice – he really listens and takes note.

“It’s a nice feeling for me, a former apprentice, to be able to help him get the skills he needs to start his career.

“I spend quite a bit of time helping Milo to understand the equipment we use – so he can maintain it and make sure nothing breaks.”

John Cooke, operations manager at TTE, added: “Milo is a brilliant example of an apprentice who is playing a key role for their employer while building a specialised set of skills that will form the basis of an exciting career.

“As National Apprenticeship Week takes place, I’d urge school leavers and employers to look into the broad range of apprenticeship programmes and what they can offer."