MORE than 30 young people found apprenticeships with major Blackburn with Darwen firms thanks to the borough’s HIVE business network.

Its chairman Khalid Saifullah, director of Star Tissue UK, said finding opportunities for the younger generation was a key aim of the group.

He was speaking after a HIVE event at Ewood Park yesterday focused on how the ‘connectivity’ of next generation of broadband could boost prosperity.

Blackburn is the first town in the UK to receive the ‘air fibre’ technology to deliver speeds of up to 120mbps.

James Roberts, engineering manager of Simonstone-based 6G internet, outlined to 80 business leaders how it could drive growth and attract investment to the area.

Mr Saifullah said: “This connectivity is important to the borough and its companies.

“HIVE is all about making the most of what Blackburn with Darwen has, being proud of the borough and spreading the word.

“At least 30 young people have been taken on by HIVE companies in last 18 months for apprenticeships which would not otherwise have existed.

“We are keen to promote business and its opportunities, both as employees and future business leaders, to young people.

“HIVE are the current generation of business leaders and we want to foster the next generation through a ‘Young Hive’ project.

“We have created a network of business leaders and promote trade between them. My company Star Tissue used to buy plastic bags and cardboard boxes from the Midlands but now we get them locally.

“Big businesses are helping smaller companies into a new export markets.”

Mark Murray, director of Darwen firm tpw, praised HIVE for providing the contacts to get his company on the tender list for the ‘Buy BWD’ website contract they later won.

Julia Wright, business development boss at the HIVE’s chosen charity The Youth Zone, said: “Working with the network breaks down myths about business and opens up new opportunities for our young people.”

East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Mike Damms said: “HIVE is in its early stages but it is building a cohesive network of businesses that can then sell the area worldwide.”

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