The company which runs the Tyne and Wear Metro has announced that it will recruit 30 new apprentices in the next three years.
The apprentices will be trained in partnership with a local college in a bid to keep young engineering talent in the region.
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A decision will be announced on the fate of three GP surgeries in Hartlepool later.
The UK only managed to rank 20th on the World Economic Forum's (WEF) index of nations - a slide from 9th position in 2006.
"Last season is fading from view in the rear-view mirror with bright skies ahead for the rest of the season."