Business boost for apprentices

The Gazette Young Entrepreneurs of the Year competition (in association with Barclays Money Skills.) The judges, from left, Chris Dixon (Gazette Business Editor), Gordn Marsden (MP for Blackpool South), Shakira Musarat (Associate Director-Barclays Corporate) and Rachel Herbinson (Barclays Community Business Partner).

The Gazette Young Entrepreneurs of the Year competition (in association with Barclays Money Skills.) The judges, from left, Chris Dixon (Gazette Business Editor), Gordn Marsden (MP for Blackpool South), Shakira Musarat (Associate Director-Barclays Corporate) and Rachel Herbinson (Barclays Community Business Partner).

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BLACKPOOL has been named a hotbed of apprenticeship activity.

Businesses are benefiting from 1,300 apprenticeship starts this year alone.

There are now apprenticeships available for more than one in nine people aged 16 to 24 who are not in education employment or training (NEET) in the area, according to government statistics.

Blackpool has the fifth highest ratio of apprenticeships in the country - offering people on -the-job training at subsidised rates to employers.

The figures don’t surprise Blackpool South MP and shadow apprentice minister Gordon Marsden, (pictured).

He said: “The progress we’ve made in Blackpool in getting young people into apprenticeships builds on the work of employers in the town and the work of Blackpool and the Fylde College.

“But we still have a long way to go with figures of more than 20 per cent of young people in the NEET category.

“And the largest proportion of apprenticeships in the North West are still going to people over the age of 25.

Jane Scott Paul, chief executive of the Association of Accounting Technicians, said: “While many won’t be surprised that apprenticeship take-up is more prevalent in the North – it is the difference between the two that causes alarm.

“One in five 16-24 year olds in the UK are currently not in employment, education or training and this problem is one that won’t go away.

“If the government is committed to providing funding for apprenticeships – employers, schools, parents and young people themselves need to be aware of these opportunities and more importantly see them as the best route into jobs and a career.”

In Blackpool, 1,300 apprenticeships have been launched in the past year, with 14,200 16 to 25-year olds living in the area.

Paul Williams, 23, from Layton, is hoping to start a construction apprenticeship in the new year.

He said: “I want to learn how to get into the industry properly and this is the best way - it’s better than being stuck in a classroom all day.

“I know there’s exams involved but I’m not that academic - this is a way for me to learn – in a manner better suited to me.