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.
More top news
Sunderland Football Club's Chief Executive has left the club, after a decision by the new owners to make the position of CEO redundant
A minute's silence has been held for Chloe Rutherford and Liam Curry, and other victims of the Manchester terror attack in South Shields
Newcastle United winger Rolando Aarons and his mother have been spared jail after admitting affray over a brawl in a Newcastle bar