By Jonathan Davies

David Cameron has unveiled the government's plans to boost the number of apprenticeship programmes offered by big businesses.

The Prime Minister pledged to create three million apprenticeships by 2020 during the general election campaign.

He explained that any business bidding for government contracts worth £10 million or more must demonstrate a "reasonable proportion" of apprentices within the company.

"The greatest asset any employer has is their workforce," the Prime Minister said.

"And by investing in them, they are investing in the success and future of their business."

Mr Cameron reiterated the government's intentions to implement an apprenticeship levy, to be used by larger businesses to invest in training workers. A consultation will be carried out on the subject. You can take part here.

"Skilled people are the lifeblood of a strong economy, but for too long UK businesses have invested too little in developing their employees' skills to meet the demands of a competitive, global market," said Skills Minister Nick Boles.

John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), welcomed the plans.

He said: "Apprenticeship schemes can play a part in meeting important ambitions to boost skills and drive-up productivity."

Despite his praise, Mr Longworth stressed that small businesses need to be included in the government's apprenticeships plans.

"Government policy is currently too focused on major employers, but equal effort ought to be put on encouraging and supporting smaller businesses to offer apprenticeships," Mr Longworth said.