By Marcus Leach

The Government’s ambition to deliver 50,000 additional apprenticeships has been substantially exceeded, official statistics show.

The statistics show that the Government has actually delivered over 103,000 additional adult apprenticeship starts over the 2010-11 financial year. In May 2010 the Government announced an aspiration to deliver 50,000 additional adult apprenticeship places during this time.

Provisional data shows that there were a total of 257,000 adult apprenticeship starts have been delivered between April 2010 and March 2011.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

"The growth in apprenticeships to over double the planned ambition, including sectors such as IT, advanced manufacturing and engineering demonstrates our commitment to delivering the skills businesses need to grow and young people need to build productive careers.

"We're determined to do more to boost growth, rebalance the economy, extend opportunity and break down barriers between academic and vocational learning. Our planned investment will deliver some 360,000 apprenticeships this year alone, and we'll continue to work with the business community to make it easier for more employers of all sizes to take on an apprentice and reap the benefits they bring. With every £1 of Government money delivering a return of some £40 to the wider economy, this is a sound investment in the country's future."

Skills Minister John Hayes said:

"With the biggest boost in apprenticeship numbers in our history, today marks an historic achievement by learners, employers and training providers. We’ve achieved growth at every level and for all age groups.

"My ambition to grow apprenticeships by 50,000 in the first year of my watch has been met and doubled, bringing the total number of apprenticeships to the biggest in modern history.

"We must do still more. By reducing bureaucracy, improving guidance and opening routes to higher learning we can seed opportunities for thousands of Britons and build the economically successful and socially just nation we crave."

By the end of this Parliament, the Government is committed to supporting an additional 250,000 apprenticeships, compared to the previous Government’s plans.

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