The number of young people starting apprenticeships in Blackpool is on the rise.
The latest figures show 1,940 young people started a new career during the academic year 2011 to 2012 – up 7.4 per cent on the previous year.
Sam Banfield, 21, started as an apprentice last year working for Routes Healthcare on Preston New Road, Marton.
She had trained as a hairdresser but then found out she was allergic to dye so looked for an alternative career.
She said: “I had always said I would never work in an office but it is the best thing I have ever done.
“I originally came here on work experience but I started the apprenticeship and it is really great.
“The beauty is you learn as you work unlike going to college, and of course you get paid.
“One of my colleagues, Chris Thornton, started here as an apprentice and he won apprentice of the year.
“I would like to follow on that path.”
The North West, as a region, registered 89,310 apprenticeship starts, with the national figures up 13.9 per cent at half a million.
David Way, chief executive of the National Apprenticeship Service, said: “I am pleased new data confirms apprenticeships overall are increasingly popular.
“Apprenticeships come with a guarantee of quality, giving young people a job with training, and are proven to deliver a significant return on investment, so this really is a win-win initiative for employers.”
The Government said funding was available to help companies take on an apprentice aged 16 to 24 through the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers.
Businesses which choose to expand through apprenticeships can access funding of £1,500.
The grant is open to organisations employing up to 1,000 people, who have never employed an apprentice before, or have not recruited one in the past 12 months.
Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said: “While any rise in the overall number of apprenticeship starts is welcome, these figures do not disguise the fact the Government is failing to create more apprenticeship opportunities for young people in the North West.
“We would take action by using public procurement and government contracts to boost apprenticeship places but Ministers have refused to back our plans.”
Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard said: “This is positive news and will hopefully lead to tackling the lag in Blackpool compared to the national picture in terms of youth unemployment.
“I have always said growth in Blackpool will be led by the private sector and training our young people in the skills needed by businesses is a big step in the right direction.”
The figures have been welcomed by the Government.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “Today’s figures mean we are starting to turn the tide. Our investment in vocational skills is paying off.”