By Daniel Hunter

A number of major high street banks will create new apprenticeship schemes and offer more places to young people, Skills Minister John Hayes announced today (Wednesday).

The announcements were made during National Apprenticeship Week at a financial services sector roundtable, held at HSBC in Canary Wharf, to look at the creation of new apprenticeship routes into employment.

Banks announcing plans to further engage with the Government’s educational and back to work reforms include:

· Barclays will create 1,000 new apprenticeships across England and Wales with a major programme launching in April

· HSBC will create an extra 688 apprentices bringing the total number of employees within its apprenticeship scheme to 1,000 by the end of 2012

· Santander will launch an apprenticeship scheme that will see up to 50 people offered places at the bank.

“I am delighted that these banks are investing in apprenticeships which will help them secure the high-quality skills they need to create economic growth and provide new pathways to excellence for the brightest and best young people," Skills Minister John Hayes said.

“Creating a highly skilled workforce that can take on the best in the world means seeing apprenticeships as an access route to the professions.”

Antony Jenkins, Chief Executive of Barclays Retail and Business Banking, said that tackling youth unemployment was a serious challenge in the UK.

“Tackling youth unemployment is one of the biggest challenges facing the UK economy," he said.

"As a large employer we want to create opportunities which raise young people’s skills and aspirations, and help them to support future prosperity.

“We are really excited about this programme because it will give many young people their vital first job opportunity, which they can then go on to develop into rewarding long-term careers.”

John Morewood, head of Apprenticeships at HSBC said the scheme will boost the skill level in the UK.

“Apprenticeships complement our graduate schemes and help us continue our journey of professionalising our workforce," he said.

“For many employees who wouldn’t have had the chance to gain a professional qualification, apprenticeships will give them increased skills and career opportunities as well as a nationally recognised qualification.

“Driving up the capability of our employees is a key element of our Strategy.

"Furthermore, HSBC aims to have 1,000 employees within its apprenticeship scheme by the end of 2012."

Data released on 31 January confirms record growth in apprenticeship starts, with 457,200 starting an apprenticeship in the full 2010/11 academic year. This represents a 63.5 per cent increase on 2009/10 figures.

Growth took place at all levels of learning, for all age groups, and across all sectors and all regions. According to the National Audit Office, every £1 of public investment in apprenticeships delivers a return of £18 to the wider economy.

Join us on
Follow @freshbusiness