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On-the-job training funding to hit £1.4bn


Business secretary Vince Cable has unveiled plans to increase annual funding for on-the-job training by £222m to hit £1.4bn this year in a bid to create 100,000 new places.
To mark the start of National Apprenticeship Week, Cable has also urged employers to follow the lead of firms such as British Airways, British Gas and BT, which are offering thousands of positions.
The UK's fourth largest supermarket chain Morrisons has said that it intends to create 6,000 new apprenticeships in butchery, bakery and customer service in 2011 alongside training for 6,000 existing staff who will also start the scheme. It is believed to be the largest such initiative in the country.
Cable believes that investing in training to create a generation of highly skilled workers will be key to ensuring sustainable economic growth. Under a programme launched by Labour, which saw the number of school leavers taking up apprenticeships leap from 60,000 in 1997 to almost 300,000 last year, the government pays for such apprentices to attend colleges, while employers give them a job and pay them a wage.
But Cable also called for an end to "outdated values" that have seen vocational learning branded as the poor relation to academic study. The hope is that, over time, apprenticeships will assume the same status as degrees in the eyes of business.
"Some of the most prestigious companies in England – large and small, public and private – employ apprentices and benefit from doing so," he said. More than 30% of Rolls Royce apprentices have progressed to senior management roles within the company, and 80% of those who employ apprentices agree that they make the workplace more productive."
An ICM Omnibus poll also found that 46% of those questioned agreed that the rising costs of university tuition fees would make them more likely to consider taking up an apprenticeship.
By 2014/15, the coalition government hopes that 400,000 will be enrolled on such schemes. It expects half of them to be over 19 and their places to be funded by the Department for Business, Information and Skills. Apprentices aged between 16 and 18 have their college training paid for by the Department of Education.

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