Business secretary Vince Cable and skills minister John Hayes have called on employers to create “a new generation of skilled workers” by taking on more apprentices, as National Apprenticeship Week begins today (Monday).
Cable said that the Government will be working with businesses to deliver 100,000 more apprenticeship places by 2014 and urged firms to follow the lead of employers who are currently increasing their apprentice intake.
British Airways, which expanded its engineering apprenticeship scheme to take on 120 students this year, was one of several firms praised by Cable. He also commended firms such as British Gas, Superdrug and Procter & Gamble for creating thousands of new apprenticeship places this year between them.
“I want to reinforce the message to business and young people that apprenticeships are a first-class way to start a career,” said Cable. “That is why my department has pledged to work to create some 75,000 additional adult places than those promised by the previous Government.”
He added that many organisations, regardless of size or sector, benefit from offering apprenticeships, with 80% reporting that apprentices make the workplace more productive.
Hayes is also working with the Department for Work and Pensions to look at offering apprenticeship placements to those on unemployment benefits. The Government has committed to increase the budget for apprentices to more than £1.4 billion in 2011-12 as part of its Skills Strategy.
Peter Winebloom, director of apprentices and skills at manufacturers’ organisation the EEF, welcomed the Government’s commitment to create more apprenticeship places.
He added: “As a nation, we need to take the development of our skills seriously if we are to succeed in the increasingly competitive world in which we live.
“Doing this will go a long way towards ensuring that we build a more balanced economy less reliant on financial services and one in which hard-working apprentices are valued for the skills and qualities they can bring.”
Further resources for employers on apprentices