Since 2010, the number of new apprenticeships in the UK has nearly doubled with well over half a million people starting one last year.
Ahead of National Apprenticeships Week next month – a celebration of the benefits of taking on young people and giving them vital experience of working life – Erewash MP Jessica Lee has made a plea to give young folk an opportunity in her constituency.
Recently she met apprentices at Ilkeston based chemical manufacturers Derwent Analytics and Long Eaton engineering firm TecQuipment, some of whom were recruited directly from a jobs fair she held last September.
“In Erewash we are lucky to have a large number of businesses that offer apprenticeships in a range of sectors, from engineering and manufacturing to catering and retail,” she said.
Apprenticeships are now becoming a ‘credible alternative’ to university, she said, adding: “I would urge all businesses across Erewash and the wider region to consider whether they could take on a new apprentice and give someone the opportunity to learn a new skill or trade.”
Miss Lee also visited Anderson’s Fine Foods and Outside Catering and Cafe 100, both of which are community cafes based in Long Eaton which offer apprentices the opportunity to gain real work-based training whilst learning all aspects of both the hospitality and catering industry.
Cafe 100 manager Gul Khosa said: “It’s important to take these youngsters on and have some faith in them – it’s not always just about giving them work experience.
“Through our programme they can gain some self belief, emotional intelligence and put behind them all the issues they might have.
“When we started so many young people were so enthusiastic to join in because I think there are so few opportunities like this out there.”
In the House of Commons earlier this year, Miss Lee asked Chancellor George Osborne about whether he agreed with her about the importance of apprenticeships.
He replied: “Apprenticeships are vital in helping to create that skilled work force.
“More than 1m people have started apprenticeships since 2010 and in her constituency alone there has been a 42 per cent increase.
“I am delighted that successful businesses in her constituency are helping to train the work force of tomorrow.”
National Apprenticeship Week 2013 runs from Monday March 11 to Friday March 15.