By Maximilian Clarke

Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced a 50% surge in the number of apprenticeships offered by UK firms, welcoming it as a necessary boost for business.

“This Government's unprecedented investment in apprenticeships is working for businesses and creating long term career opportunities for record numbers of trainees,” said Cable.

Over the past year, apprenticeship numbers have risen across all age ranges and levels of training across the apprenticeships programme. Data shows that there were 442,700 apprenticeship starts in the full 2010/11 academic year (final data for 2009/10 shows 279,700 starts).

“I’m particularly pleased that vital sectors like construction, manufacturing and engineering are continuing to back apprenticeships, despite tough economic times. 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.

“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.”

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