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EE, in Darlington, Sunderland and North Tyneside, will take on 500 apprentices
A COMMUNICATIONS company will create hundreds of apprenticeships in three North-East call centres.
Everything Everywhere (EE), which didn't even have an apprenticeship scheme last year, could take on up to 500 apprentices at Darlington, Doxford, in Sunderland, and its call centre near Murton, County Durham.
The company, which owns T-Mobile and Orange, and runs 4G mobile phone services, employs about 6,000 people in the North-East and revealed the plans in the middle of National Apprenticeship Week.
It says it hopes to fill the apprenticeship posts by 2015.
The move comes after EE last month revealed plans to extend its call centre in Yarm Road Business Park, Darlington, where it is the town's biggest private employer with around 2,000 workers.
It says apprentices will work in its customer service and retail teams on 15-month on-the-job placements, and will take qualifications in call centre operations before being offered full-time employment.
The firm said about 100 jobs would be made available in its retail department by the end of 2013.
Apprentice James Newman works in Darlington's product support team, and said the scheme had given him greater confidence.
He said: “The structure of an apprenticeship and being part of a close-knit team has been great for me, and having a routine has helped me manage my time and money.
“I'm constantly learning new skills that help me both inside and outside of work.”
The company last year offered its first North-East apprenticeships as The Northern Echo launched its Foundation for Jobs campaign to increase employment for young people across the region.
It chose 36 people to take on sales and customer services courses at Darlington, Sunderland and Murton, and has since recruited 101 apprentices nationally through a trial scheme in its customer care team.
Jackie O’Leary, EE chief customer officer, said: “We recognise the importance of providing a platform for the UK's young people to develop professionally, as well as contributing towards the local economy and community in the areas that we operate.
“With one million unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds, big businesses should play a central role in providing employment opportunities and training up tomorrow’s talent.”
The company previously revealed it could create more new jobs by extending its Darlington call centre.
It has submitted plans to demolish four buildings at its existing facility and create a two-storey property with 13,000 sq metres of office space.