Three young apprentices from Keighley were introduced to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change when he visited Yorkshire Water’s Esholt waste water treatment centre Cabinet minister Ed Davey met new starters James Graham, 22, Ella Allen, 20, and Chris Cooke, 22, who are part of Yorkshire Water’s commitment to encouraging young local talent.

“We typically recruit apprentices once a year and the roles are always popular,” said Yorkshire Water’s director of human resources, Pamela Rogerson.

“We had 700 applicants last year and this year is also proving popular.

“Our apprentice scheme is really well regarded and we want young people over the county to consider us an employer of choice.

“We have had a range of roles available this year both office and field based, with locations including Bradford, Leeds, Scarborough, York, Harrogate and Doncaster and some roles being based across whole of the Yorkshire region.

“We’re looking for the cream of the crop and have timed the scheme to start in September so people can finish their studies and have a fun summer before getting down to work.”

Recruiting the latest batch of 17 apprentices is now taking place after applications ended last month.

Since starting the scheme in 2010, Yorkshire Water has taken on more than 40 apprentices in a variety of roles within the business, as part of its drive to ensure its skills base is maintained and continuously refreshed.

The programme includes a permanent role from day one and college study with all apprentices supported by a mentor or buddy from relevant departments. Each apprentice will receive a starting salary of £12,094 plus many additional benefits.

Anyone interested in applying for 2014 should visit careers.

Schemes such as the company’s graduate and apprentice programmes are also helping to support many of the young people who have been hardest hit by unemployment, with recent statistics highlighting how more than a million 16 to 24-year-olds are out of work.

Yorkshire Water supplies 1.24 billion litres of drinking water – equivalent to 49,600 Olympic-sized swimming pools – and treats 1.7 million tonnes of waste water every day.

It operates more than 700 clean and waste water treatment works and looks after more than 40,000 miles of water and sewerage mains – enough pipework to circle the earth.