Three students will be among those at the heart of the £54 million glass melting facility in St Helens after being enlisted as Glass Futures’ first ever apprentices.

This month, Glass Futures completed the main building work for the 165,000 sq. ft. Global Centre of Excellence for Glass.

The centre will research decarbonising glass and other industries, and have 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.

Glass Futures has now formally added three apprentices from Waterside Training to its workforce.

The new recruits will 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 practical skills on site through a wide range of work at Global Centre of Excellence for Glass.

Glass Futures aims to offer training and development opportunities for the next generation of the glass industry.

Specifically 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.

They 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 business as well as enabling them 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.”