The company said there are three levels of entry for the programme: junior engineers at post A-level/ONC, undergraduate engineers who have completed their first year of a BEng degree and graduate engineers seeking their first professional appointment.

HR manager Kathy Travis said: "We have had some problems in the past recruiting the right people at the right time. This programme will integrate with the general development plan for the business so that we can bring on talented individuals who we can move into appropriate positions as the company develops. Street Crane is a family business with a positive ethos."

Leader of the programme, director of development, Chris Russell, said: "We recognise talent and many of our senior people have come up through the company, advancing by developing their skills to build rewarding careers."

Junior engineers will join the company as trainees. Engaged in real projects they will be sponsored through HNC/D and possibly on to degree courses if they show the potential.

The company is also offering undergraduate engineers support for tuition fees, vacation experience and industrial placement as part of the degree programme. On graduation these engineers will be invited to join the company