By Daniel Hunter

New figures show that Scotland is well on course to exceed its annual target of 25,000 new Modern Apprenticeships (MAs) this year.

By the end of the third quarter of 2014/15 there were 19,517 MA starts, around 78 per cent of the annual target. This is a two per cent increase on 19,124 at the same point last year.

The figures released by Skills Development Scotland also show that 53 per cent of starts were aged 16 to 19, slightly higher than at the same point last year and that the majority of starts (65 per cent) were at level three or above, two percentage points higher than the same time period last year.

Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training Roseanna Cunningham said:

“The Scottish Government remains committed to our Modern Apprenticeship programme and yesterday’s figures are evidence that we are creating more opportunities each year, strongly suggesting that our annual target of 25,000 will again be exceeded.

“In the last four years we have created almost 100,000 new opportunities and by 2020 will create 30,000 new MAs each year. However, for that to happen, and for us to continue to support more young women and men into jobs, we need to keep encouraging more employers to consider taking a young person on in an MA position.

“Apprenticeships are a key part of action to address youth unemployment and we are currently implementing the recommendations from the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce. This will see closer working between business, colleges and local authorities to help grow the economy and ensure our young people are ready for work when the time comes.”

Skills Development Scotland Chief Executive, Damien Yeates added:

“Modern Apprenticeships continue to benefit young people, businesses and local economies, are demand-led and reflect the needs of the economy.

“Employers see the real benefits of investing in training both by taking on Modern Apprentices and by giving existing staff Modern Apprenticeship opportunities.

“We are working with partners in industry, local authorities and education to develop the apprenticeship offer to include Foundation Apprenticeships in schools.”