DESPITE coronavirus threatening to halt their careers, 26 apprentices at United Utilities have successfully completed their final assessments.

The Warrington-based water company came up with safe, socially distanced methods to help its final year apprentices continue their learning.

Apprentices are one group across the country bearing the brunt of the economic crisis triggered by Covid-19, with many furloughed or even being thrown off their schemes.

Jacqui Kawczak, apprenticeship delivery manager at United Utilities said: "For our apprentices in their final year who had assessments and exams to complete, many feared their future career prospects within the company would be severely delayed due to the coronavirus crisis.

"We worked closely with the Energy and Utilities Independent Assessment Service and its external quality assurance provider 'Open Awards', to share with them our ideas on how we could facilitate our apprentices completing the necessary elements left, safely and to the required standards.

"After hearing and seeing the proposal we were delighted when they approved our plan."

Proactive measures were taken to complete exams safely, as well as to live-stream practical assessments using a two metre selfie stick.

"I was so relieved the company helped find a way for us to complete the final stages on time, as I was really worried that this might not happen due to Covid-19," said apprentice Aby Garner.

"This would have had a massive impact on me taking the next step in my career, and after working up to this point for the past three years, it would have been a big blow.

"I was surprised by the way it was all set up and how well it went.

"I’m now really excited to be starting a permanent role as a Water Network Technician."

All 26 apprentices will be moving into roles within United Utilities.