Apprentice drive will boost the economy, says Government skills minister Hayes

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SOUTH Holland and the Deepings MP John Hayes says he wants to foster a “renaissance” in apprenticeships as part of a national campaign to bring them back into fashion.

This week is National Apprenticeship week and Mr Hayes, Government skills minister, has been at the forefront of a drive to up the number of young people training on the job.

Mr Hayes hailed figures released last week which show almost 120,000 people started an apprenticeship in the first quarter of the 2010/11 academic year.

Government funding for apprenticeships will top £1.4billion in 2011/12, enough for more than 300,000 apprenticeships.

Mr Hayes said: “I want to create an apprenticeships renaissance because apprenticeships promote the vocational excellence and pride in craftsmanship that leads to lasting employment and improved life chances. I’m confident that with our increased investment and even higher quality standards, the programme will continue to expand, helping businesses of all kinds develop the skills they need to drive growth.”

Steadfast Training, which runs an apprenticeship academy in Pinchbeck Road in Spalding, said it has seen a big rise in interest over the last year.

Senior training advisor Anne Hamilton said: “It has really taken off now. When we first started it was really slow but now as soon as apprenticeships are mentioned they are away – the national publicity has really helped.”

In a speech at BT headquarters this week Mr Hayes was due to say: “The apprenticeship path once turned thousands of medieval peasants into the men whose skills, combined with passion, vision and creativity, beautified this island and which still give the surviving examples of their handiwork, like the great cathedrals, the power to take our breath away.

“For these people, an apprenticeship led to a chance to touch, feel, and taste the sublime. And so it still can for the people of today who want to point their lives in a more rewarding direction.

“I am determined that those who want to set their feet on the apprenticeships path should receive every assistance to do so from the Government.”