A young apprentice is using science to safeguard the future of one of Teesside’s best known companies and global exporters.
Milo John is one of only a few laboratory apprentices there have ever been at CF Fertilisers’ Billingham manufacturing site, at the heart of Teesside’s chemical and process industry.
The 18-year-old from Stockton, a learner at TTE Technical (UK), 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.
Under the watchful eye of TTE instructors and CF Fertilisers colleagues, Milo 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.
His apprenticeship means crucial knowledge is being transferred for continuity.
He explained: “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’s been so successful that colleagues have nominated him for TTE’s Apprentice of the Year award, to be decided on Thursday as part of National Apprenticeship Week.
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.
And one of the people helping Milo learn the ropes is 22-year-old Courtney Whitfield, a former TTE apprentice and now qualified chemist.
Courtney, also from Stockton, 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.”