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Government launches National Apprenticeship Week
At the start of National Apprenticeship Week, 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.
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.
The supermarket is one of a number of UK employers 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.
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."
According to research commissioned through the National Apprenticeships Service and the British Chambers of Commerce, 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 research found 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 said: "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."
Simon Waugh, chief executive of the National Apprenticeship Service, said: "The time is absolutely right for businesses of all sizes to take on apprentices. Our research shows that firms who take on apprentices have been in great shape to face the downturn. Last year saw a seven per cent increase in apprentices; that's 240,000 young people freshly into the jobs market, with the determination to succeed.
"What continues to surprise me is the number of companies who still haven't switched on to apprentices and the value they bring to businesses."
David Frost from the British Chambers of Commerce said: "The recession has taught us two key things: that businesses' long-term commitment to investment in their workforce really pays off, and that young people must be effectively brought into employment. Apprenticeship programmes offer both of these factors.
"We would strongly advise our members, and indeed all businesses, to consider apprenticeships as part of their recruitment strategy."
More information on National Apprenticeship Week is available at www.apprenticeships.org.uk
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