UK on course for half a million apprenticeship starts
The number of apprenticeship starts are on course to reach half a million this year, according to new government figures released today.
Provisional data shows that 256,500 people embarked on an apprenticeship in the first half of the 2011/12 academic year, which ran from August 2011 to January 2012.
The breakdown comprised of 79,100 people aged under 19, while there were 77,100 aged between 19 and 24, and 100,300 adults aged 25 or over.
Skills minister John Hayes – who has been spearheading the government’s push on apprenticeships – said that there had been a focus on the quality of programmes as well as boosting numbers.
“These increases are extremely encouraging and it is testament to the government’s unwavering commitment to apprenticeships,” he said. “They are at the heart of our skills policy because they equip people with the skills they need for a prosperous future and provide businesses with the expertise they need to grow.”
Apprenticeship schemes have been criticised in some quarters for not creating enough employment opportunities for young people, but Hayes added that it was “particularly encouraging” to see such a large proportion of apprenticeship starts among the under-25 age group.
In the 2010/11 academic year, the number of such training placements swelled by 50 per cent to reach 442,700 – a total that looks set to be surpassed this year.
Of those 442,700, apprenticeships among the over-25s had grown by 257 per cent, the increase for 19 to 24-year-olds was 22 per cent, and for the 16 to 18 age category just 10 per cent, according to an analysis by the Institute for Public Policy Research.
In February, a host of major employers announced new training places to coincide with Apprenticeship Week.
Starbucks unveiled its first apprenticeship programme in the UK, which will see the company offer up to 45 apprenticeships each month in 2012.
BAE Systems also announced the creation of 265 new apprenticeships, while Siemens said it would be introducing an additional 150 apprenticeships this year as part of its commitment to vocational training.
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