THE MAYOR of Tees Valley has visited a firm which has been successful in securing a grant to take on apprentices.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen visited Merlin Flex, which has supplied products for Formula One cars and Typhoon pilot helmets to reveal they have been successful in securing an Emergency Apprenticeship Grant.

He is now urging other businesses across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool to apply for the remaining cash.

Last month, Mr Houchen announced he was providing almost £1m to create and fund the wages of more than 100 apprentices to encourage businesses across the region to offer employment to more 16-20-year-olds as part of their coronavirus response.

The money will be used to fund 100 per cent of the apprentices’ wages in their first six months of employment, and 50 per cent for the remainder of the apprenticeship, up to a maximum of two years, offering an incentive to businesses following the dramatic decline in apprenticeship creation as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this week, Mr Houchen visited Hartlepool-based Merlin Flex – a firm he has previously praised for their dedication to apprenticeships – to reveal they had been successful in securing the financial support.

Merlin Flex is a leading global supplier of cutting-edge, flexible circuit boards for a range of items and clients including Formula 1 steering wheels, and across the defence, aerospace and medical sectors.

The firm’s creations have been used in Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull Formula One car steering wheel when he won the World Championship, Eurofighter pilot helmets and the Pepper robot, which can recognise human emotions.

Mr Houchen said: “It was brilliant to once again visit this fantastic Hartlepool business to reveal they had been successful in securing funding for a new apprentice through my Emergency Apprenticeship Scheme, which means they can offer work to more of our fantastic young people.

“People are blown away when I tell them that part of Sebastian Vettel’s Formula One World Championship winning car was made right here in the Tees Valley.

"They are fantastic local businesses giving jobs to local people.

“As we recover from the coronavirus pandemic, we need to make sure our young people in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool are not disadvantaged – they are the workers of the future.

“That is why I am offering almost £1m and funding the salaries of more than 100 apprenticeships."

“Unfortunately, many businesses are now reluctant to commit to offering apprenticeships to young people because of the uncertainty they are currently experiencing, but we still have cash available so I am urging businesses across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool to get in touch and we can give them the help and support they need.”

Businesses looking to register an interest in the new funding can do so by visiting