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Government launches National Apprenticeship Week



The government today launched National Apprenticeship Week, celebrating the commitment of employers to recruit apprentices and urging people to look at the benefits to their skills and career of becoming an apprentice.

Major UK employers are expecting to hire thousands of apprentices in 2010 and the government is encouraging all businesses to take up the new Apprentice Grant for Employers (AGE) scheme offering a £2,500 grant for each 16 or 17-year-old apprentice taken on.

Business Minister Pat McFadden will today visit a Morrisons supermarket in Camden, London, to congratulate the firm for its commitment to make 5,500 Government-funded Apprenticeship places available by July 2010.

Commenting on today’s launch, Pat McFadden said: “For so many businesses to be planning to recruit in 2010 is good news for the whole economy. It shows employers increasingly recognise the benefits they get from hiring apprentices. Undertaking an apprenticeship is a great way of learning a trade and gaining vocational experience.

“In 1997 apprenticeships had dwindled as a route for people to gain new skills, today we have 239,900 starting Apprenticeships and businesses of all sizes are reaping the rewards of having a highly skilled workforce.

“Skills will be crucial to a strong economic recovery and I urge employers across the country to take the chance apprentices give them to boost their competitiveness, innovation and growth this year.”

Morrisons will be creating more than 20,000 Apprenticeships in the next year, and offers training in Bakery, Butchery and Retail Skills, at level 2 (equivalent to five good GCSEs).

The supermarket is just one major UK employer making a commitment to Apprenticeships this week. Crossrail has made a commitment to take on 400 apprentices in the next year through it’s contractors, and B&Q has said it aims to double the its Apprenticeship intake to 300 this September.

New research commissioned through the National Apprenticeships Service and the British Chambers of Commerce shows that more than three in five UK companies plan to recruit this year, while 62% of businesses who employ apprentices said they made a positive contribution during the recession.

The good news for young people considering Apprenticeships is that drive and enthusiasm is the trait most prized by employers (83%) while having skills that the business will need in the future is also sought after  (71%).

Apprenticeships Minister Kevin Brennan added: “In the last year we have seen a record increase in the number of people starting an apprenticeship. The benefits are clear and this week I am urging businesses and young people alike to take a close look at what they can gain from them.

“Skills will be key to the recovery of the UK economy and apprentices can be vital to businesses looking to innovate and grow. I am proud so many businesses are hiring apprentices already. Last year 143,000 people completed an apprenticeship, helping to give them the skills and experience they need to get on at work.”



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