Figures released yesterday show the number of apprentices enrolled across England and Wales has risen more the 50% on the final figures for 2009-10.
The increase is evident across age ranges and programme levels. In 2009-10 279,700 apprentices started placements with companies in England and Wales while 2010-11 figures currently indicate that 442,700 starts have been made.
Sector and subject breakdowns for apprenticeship starts show that 47,020 apprenticeships have been taken up in programmes relevant to this sector
which government has termed “a key growth sector”.
Commenting on the increasing number of enrolments Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “This Government’s unprecedented investment in apprenticeships is working for businesses and creating long term career opportunities for record numbers of trainees.”
Continuing in his celebration of apprenticeship success Dr Cable pointed to the important contribution apprenticeship have recently made to boosting productivity in firms. He congratulate employers who had acted with foresight to support industry skills development.
“I’m particularly pleased that vital sectors like construction, manufacturing and engineering are continuing to back apprenticeships, despite tough economic times,” said Dr Cable. “By helping firms build a stronger skills base, this investment puts businesses on solid foundations to deliver sustainable growth and a more balanced and inclusive economy.”
Representatives from the Department of Business Innovation and Skills have recently been touring successful apprentice employers like heavy engineering firm Sheffield Forgemeasters which won the Large Employer of the Year Award in June from the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS).
These visit are designed to help government develop and improve its apprenticeship frameworks using leading industry exemplars. Commenting ongoing work on apprenticeship frameworks Dr Cable said: “The Government will continue to improve and strengthen the apprenticeships programme to drive up standards, cut bureaucracy for smaller firms and deliver more advanced level and high tech training.”
The Technical Apprenticeship service, recently launched by sector skills council Cogent in partnership with NAS and Unite the Union, echoes this ambition. The service helps remove the administrative strain on SME companies in process industries which aspire to employing apprentices but currently perceive the risks and costs to be too high.
For those employers looking to up-skill existing employees rather than support the training of new staff the figures released today highlight the opportunity for adult apprenticeships. 175,500 apprenticeships starts by individuals over the age of 25 were made between August 2010 and July 2011 compared to 49,100 in the previous academic year.