David Milstead turned down a place at university to join the software giant Sage, which has become the latest big firm in the North East to hire apprentices.
The number of people choosing apprenticeships in business and administration has increased in the last four years, at a time when university tuition fees are rising.
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The 60-year-old takes charge of the Black Cats with immediate effect.
What has the weekend got in store for the Tyne Tees region?
The operation took around three hours to complete, with the remains being disposed of by a specialist animal by-product company.