Oxford-based electrical and mechanical contractor, Lowe & Oliver, has reported a record surge in apprenticeship applications.

It follows the February launch of its apprentice training facility, the 'Centre for Excellence'.

The company has so far received interest from more than 85 candidates, reflecting the success of the new facility designed to address the skills shortage in the engineering sector.

Established during National Apprenticeship Week, the Centre for Excellence has become fundamental in providing practical engineering education in the region.

It has capacity to support the company's 30 apprentices plus many more from across central and southern England.

The facility comprises a classroom and six fully equipped bays – each containing demo equipment that replicates real-world conditions.

Fred Lowe, a Director at Lowe & Oliver, said: "Since the opening of our Centre for Excellence, we've seen an unprecedented interest in our apprenticeship programme.

"It's immensely gratifying to know that our investment is paying dividends in inspiring a new generation of engineers.”

Chairman Paul Tuson says the centre contributes to a 'comprehensive educational experience' as it 'complements and enhances' learning with existing educational providers.

Lowe & Oliver apprentice, Alfie Wakefield, credited the Centre for Excellence for preparing him well for his onsite work with clients.

He said: "Apprenticeships are a viable route to a rewarding career.

"I would fully recommend one."