By Marcus Leach

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has announced that his drive to create more apprentices in the capital has smashed its 20,000 target three months early and by almost 50%.

Working in partnership with the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), the Mayor’s campaign has seen a total of 28,120 people finding places on schemes with companies across a wide range of the capital's business sectors.

Its success means that London’s share of apprenticeship starts has leapt from just 5% to more than 8.5% nationally in a year — the largest growth of anywhere in the country.

The Mayor and his ‘Apprenticeship Ambassador’ and former BBC ‘Apprentice’ winner Tim Campbell launched a major campaign in November last year to create 20,000 apprenticeships by September 2011. Boris Johnson lobbied and personally wrote to some of the capital's biggest employers, urging them to play their part in helping Londoners into work.

The Mayor has led by example, creating around 2,000 apprenticeships in the past two years within the GLA Group and its contractors, through his responsible procurement programme.

A raft of big businesses responded to the Mayor's call and committed to creating apprenticeships, including Accenture, Microsoft, HSBC, Norton Rose and Channel 4. Today, a further crop of well-known companies, including Sky, Visa Europe, Reed Group, Capgemini, Veolia and the National Theatre all revealed details of new schemes.

“I am extremely grateful to everyone who has helped us rise to this important challenge," the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said.

"In difficult times it is vital that we do all we can to create jobs and opportunities for the next generation and that we invest in measures that will help us to recover more quickly and convincingly.

"Whether it’s in banking, financial services, technology, media or the arts, we've sought to ensure that these young people are poised to take advantage of any opportunities that arise for them in the future, so that London is well poised to lead the rest of the UK out of recession.”

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