The Learning and Skills Council has gone on the offensive to encourage more employers to offer Modern Apprenticeships.
Ian Ferguson, chairman of the LSC's modern apprenticeship board said: "The presentation and selling of apprentice benefits to employers is happening all the time."
"But there will be a bigger push aimed at employers over the next two months. For example, there will be a lot of exposure of good employers, to encourage others to participate.
"About one in three young people want to continue education with employment and they are our target. I want to ensure young people who should do apprenticeships have the opportunity to do them."
The move is a bid to meet the Government's guarantee that by 2004 all young people with five GCSEs will be able to take up an apprenticeship place. It also follows hard on the heels of a damning report from the Adult Learning Inspectorate in the summer, which highlighted low completion rates among apprentices.
Ferguson said it could be three to five years before England can boast a well-recognised apprenticeship scheme, but employers can expect to see significant improvements in the next six to nine months. "In that time we will see two things, an increase in the number of apprenticeships and an increase in quality. These will be real measurable improvements," he said.
"We have to look at the non-completion rate, not just what it is but why. There is evidence that suggests a lot of non-completions are nearly completions - a young person has finished seven or eight units and then been offered a better job. It's bad, but not disastrous."
Ferguson recognises that delivery of key skills in subjects such as IT, maths and communication and the age limit were barriers for employers that needed to be overcome. "We absolutely want key skills to be seen as integral to apprenticeships, and delivered and assessed as far as possible in the workplace," he said.
"As for the age barrier, I can see no reason why it shouldn't go and every reason why it should, although this is a personal view - not national policy."
By Lucie Carrington