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Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has praised a circuit manufacturer for its dedication to apprenticeships after visiting its Hartlepool site.

Merlin Flex Ltd produces cutting-edge flexible circuit boards for a range of items and clients, including Formula 1 steering wheels, and across the defence, aerospace and medical sectors.

Mayor Houchen visited the business to discover how they have benefitted from apprenticeship funding, following two successful bids for up to £2,500 to Tees Valley Combined Authority’s Apprenticeship Support for Employers scheme.

The business’s managing director, Mark Merifield, has firsthand experience of on-the-job training, as he began his career with Merlin Flex on the Youth Training Scheme.


Mark Merrifield , Ben Houchen , Justine Glenn

Mr Merifield is keen to keep such routes to work available to everyone and, during his visit, Mayor Houchen met apprentice Justine Glenn, an accounts technician at the firm.

Mayor Ben Houchen said: “I am a huge believer in vocational training as it gives our young people access to high-quality, sustainable jobs in key sectors. Apprenticeships are central to growing Tees Valley’s economy and creating the next generation of specialists that will continue our proud history of innovation.

“I applaud Merlin Flex for supporting the region’s residents and offering brilliant chances for people to reach their potential. It stands as an excellent example of how business can work to further enrich its local area.”

Mark Merifield, Managing Director of Merlin Flex Ltd, said: “I started my working life on a training scheme and know the differences programmes like those make to people’s lives. As an employer, I also understand the brilliant opportunities they offer for business, in recruiting the most eager, brightest workers.

“I would recommend any business owner looks into the Combined Authority’s Apprentice Support for Employers grant initiative and take advantage of the funds.”

Tees Valley Combined Authority’s Apprenticeship Support for Employers is a £1.3million scheme offering grants to businesses to encourage them to recruit apprentices.

Funding of £2,500 per apprentice available to small to medium businesses who employ an apprentice in priority sectors. A grant of £500 per apprentice is available to small businesses who employ an apprentice aged 19-24, with an additional £500 if the apprentice is still employed after 13 months.


Mayor Houchen during the visit.