A former footballer from East Lancashire has joined British Gas as an apprentice, as the company announce a massive North West recruitment drive.

Jessica Rawstron played for Burnley FC Women's first team before deciding to take inspiration from her dad and become a gas engineer.

Jessica, who travelled to the USA on a footballing scholarship, while studying civil engineering, before signing for Burnley FC Women when she came back to the UK said: "My inspiration came from my dad.

"He specialised in the gas field for many years and when I was thinking about how to apply my existing skills in civil engineering, I could think of nothing better than an apprenticeship.

"The need to reduce emissions in order to reach Net Zero is more critical now than at any other time, and the skills we are learning are more relevant than ever.

"This will hopefully put me in a strong position to play my part in fighting climate change.

"As the weeks of the apprenticeship pass, my self-belief and confidence has grown.

"This is down to the support of my colleagues, as well as my determination to succeed.”

Earlier this week British Gas announced a recruitment drive for more than 600 Smart Energy apprentices in the North West over the next decade, with the aim that around a third of the vacancies will be filled by the end of next year.

Half of the applicants will be made up of women as the company pushes to improve gender diversity and better reflect the customers it serves.

The announcement comes as British Gas continues to support the UK economy in providing the green skills required to help lead the electric vehicle revolution and reach Net Zero by 2050.

The apprentices from the North West will receive the technical skills training and the knowledge they need for the job at one of the British Gas training academies in Dartford, Hamilton, Thatcham and Leicester.

Once qualified they will be up-skilled to install and maintain carbon-efficient technologies, including electric vehicle charging points, heat pumps, hydrogen boilers, and to provide essential energy efficiency advice to customers.

There are currently 1,706 public electric vehicle charging points in the North West, representing 6.7 per cent of the UK total.

To help level-up the UK, gas engineers with green skills will be required across the North West to install more EV chargers in the next few years.

CEO at Centrica, Chris O’Shea, said: “We’re creating thousands of highly-skilled and well-paid British jobs to ensure that we have a workforce that can help to make the transition to low carbon both hassle-free and affordable for our customers, and to support the Government’s ambitious targets to make net zero a reality.

“It’s important that we address the low representation of women who currently work in STEM roles, which is why we have a targeted campaign to attract and retain more female recruits.

"Together, we can create a more inclusive and sustainable future that supports our communities, our planet and each other.”

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