Three students will be among those at the heart of the new £54m glass melting facility in St Helens after being enlisted as Glass Futures’ first ever apprentices.
Glass Futures has this month completed the main building work for the 165,000 sq. ft the Global Centre of Excellence for Glass which will spearhead research into decarbonising glass and other industries and be home to an experimental furnace capable of producing up to 30 tonnes of glass per day.
It is set to be handed over by the developer in the spring and will be formally unveiled at an opening ceremony after the final touches and internal fit out are carried out.
And Glass Futures has now formerly added three apprentices from Waterside Training to its workforce with the new recruits to spend four days a week on site from July 2023 and the remaining day at college.
Zane Brown, 24 and Liam Hannon ,19 – both from St Helens, and Josh Riley, 18 from Litherland, will be able to gain invaluable practical skills on site through a wide range of work at the Global Centre of Excellence for Glass.
Glass Futures aims to offer training and development opportunities for the next generation glass industry to train in sustainable, low carbon processes to reach Net Zero by 2030.
The apprentices who enrolled on a four-year multi-skilled engineering apprenticeship at Waterside Training in 2022, will be involved in the planned and preventative maintenance of the 30 tonne per day glass furnace and other machinery.
Their responsibilities will include burner changes, refractory repair, and electrical / mechanical repair.
The idea is they will gain a deep understanding into the glass making process and learn to fault find on all mechanical and electrical equipment with Glass Futures keen to support the apprentices in any areas they may wish to specialise in.
And for one of the apprentices, Zane Brown it was an inspirational talk on the work of Glass Futures by Process Engineer Grace Babalola at St Helens College that promoted him to pursue the apprenticeship and possibly long-term career with the organisation.
Zane, a former electroplater who is also studying a Level 3 engineering diploma at St Helens College, said: “The talk by Grace really opened my eyes to the work of Glass Futures and a career in engineering.
“I am really excited to be involved and the possibilities are seemingly endless, the environmental emphasis really fits in with my own moral code.”
The apprentices will be involved in various projects at Glass Futures ranging from learning about hydrogen and alternative fuels to liaising with external partners who will be undertaking projects on site – giving them an appreciation of the whole business as well as them developing to become qualified multi-skilled engineers.
Jo Watts, Glass Futures’ Resourcing Specialist said: “This is a fantastic opportunity in an incredible and unique environment allowing them to harness their knowledge and apply it into a practical engineering role. I know they are all excited and have had a few site visits and attended our Christmas social – they are part of our workforce and will play an important role on our journey.”
A not-for-profit membership organisation, Glass Futures connects the global glass industry and academia to deliver R&D and innovation, ensuring glass making’s future is built on high value and fully sustainable, zero-carbon products.