BOLTON is set to be key player in the Northern Powerhouse after electricals giants became a partner of the drive to attract investment into the north.

Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry launched Skills Week at the online retailer’s headquarters in Horwich, telling young people the North is a land of opportunity to building ‘exciting and fulfilling’ careers.

The minister told apprentices and graduates they will benefit from the Northern Powerhouse, which has been devised to boost the economy by investing in skills, innovation, transport and culture, as well as devolving significant powers and budgets to directly elected mayors ‘to ensure decisions in the North are made by the North’.

The minister visited as it officially signed up to be a Northern Powerhouse partner, pledging to create jobs, attract investment and support innovation. joins a network of more than 100 partners made up of leading businesses, bodies such as the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, and charitable organisations across the North of England.

Mr Berry said: “As someone who’s lived and worked in the North of England for my entire life, I know how important skills are to businesses, and to all of our young people. It’s for this reason that we are making this a key pillar of Northern Powerhouse policy.

“Northern Powerhouse partners such as are groundbreaking national businesses who choose to locate in the North of England, because it’s a great place to start and grow a business — and they know that improving the skills of their people is vital to the continued success of the business.

“It is hugely important to us in Government to have leading North West businesses and businesses across the North as partners and it really is a true partnership. They will help us promote everything that is exciting about the Northern Powerhouse and we are seeing that here in AO with their commitment to skills, and commitment to graduates and how young people can get an amazing jobs here in the North of England, which is what the Northern Powerhouse is all about.

“It is also about listening to businesses, talking to businesses and having a conversation and saying we know the North of England is a brilliant place to grow and start a business. What more can we do in government to make sure there is another AO which opens in Bolton or anywhere across the North of England?

“I think it is a really exciting time for the Northern Powerhouse and I have said that especially at the moment I think the north is a real land of opportunity as we have great businesses here and we look post-Brexit our strengths in things like manufacturing show that this is the place where people should come and invest where people will be making money.”

He said since the launch of the Northern Powerhouse there had been investment in the economy and commitment to ‘infrastructure and transport’ and £70 million of additional schools investment,

Mr Berry said: “It is really great seeing a business which is born and brought up in Bolton make that long commitment to this town and ensure that as they grow they can recruit people locally and across the North for hugely high quality jobs. Crucially this is by investing in their people through skills, apprenticeships and training. People who start here don’t just get a job, it is the start of a really exciting career with a nationally significant business in Bolton.

“I just think that is what the Northern Powerhouse is all about, it is about telling every young person, every person in the North of England that if you want a great career, not just a job, stay in the North of England and get involved with a really exciting business like AO which has made a big commitment to this area.”

He added: “Our ambition is to increase the size of the partnership programme. We have got nationally significant businesses in the North but my own view is that we have to reach out to more of the smaller businesses and make sure they are involved. I want the voice of northern businesses to be shouting out the loudest in London.

“When I’m going out pushing the Chancellor to get more investment, pushing the Education Secretary, I need everyone in the North and particularly northern businesses standing beside me.

“I have written to businesses in Bolton only this week to try and recruit more.”

Steve Caunce, CEO, said: “We’re really excited to announce our partnership with the Northern Powerhouse and to have Jake visit our head offices here in Bolton.

“ appeals to everyone but has always had its roots firmly in the north and we’re immensely proud of this heritage. We are looking forward to working with Jake to help inspire and educate people on the wide range of career opportunities that are available in the region.”

Emma Tildsley, aged 19, digital brand apprentice, said: “I think this is definitely good for younger people because when you are starting out you can’t always afford to make the move to London.

“London is too far away from family. Digital marketing is very focused in London and that opportunity is brought a lot closer to home.”