By Daniel Hunter

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced today (Tuesday) that he is more than half way to hitting his target of creating 100,000 apprenticeships in the capital by the end of 2012.

With National Apprenticeship Week underway the Mayor revealed that 54,470 apprenticeships have been created in the capital since July 2010 following a joint campaign with the National Apprenticeship Service.

The campaign was boosted today by the decision from retail giant Westfield to support the creation of 200 apprenticeships at its Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City centres, in areas such as retail and customer service, and facilities management. These will be delivered by the onsite skills academies, Work Zone and The Skills Place.

The Mayor also revealed that Transport for London has delivered 2,209 apprenticeships since April 2009 and is on track to hit its target of 2,550 by the end of this financial year. Rail maintenance firm Tube Lines added to the total after it confirmed it is to hire a further 22 engineering apprentices to work on projects across the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines.

Crossrail, meanwhile, has announced that 14 apprentices are set to start work at its Old Oak Common concrete factory, many of whom have been unemployed for up to 12 months.

Today the Mayor urged businesses to boost their bottom line and create vital employment opportunities in the capital by taking on more young Londoners as apprentices.

“There are thousands of enthusiastic young Londoners who are crying out for the opportunity to become apprentices and we must help them to realise their ambitions," Boris Johnson, said.

"We have had huge success with our campaign so far, but we have to work harder to convince more businesses about why apprentices are such fantastic assets to invest in. A motivated and skilled workforce is essential for the economy’s health and by opening up their doors to apprentices London’s firms can play their part in helping to beat the downturn.”

Tim Campbell, the Mayor’s ambassador for training and enterprise, will address around 80 young Londoners at an apprentice fair alongside the Deputy Mayor of London Richard Barnes at the Institute of Directors today.

“There is a groundswell of interest from young people who want to become apprentices and we have to encourage businesses to respond," Tim, who won the first series of the popular BBC show ‘The Apprentice’ and who now runs the Bright Ideas Trust, said.

"We have seen huge success in boosting the numbers of apprenticeships in London but we know that many small and medium sized companies still need convincing. National Apprenticeship Week is the perfect time for companies to find out everything they need to know.”

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