AFTER a decline in apprentice starts in 2013-14, recently released figures show that starts were at their highest yet in 2014-15.
This reflects a national ‘bounce-back’ in apprenticeships, bringing the total number of starts to 499,900 in England last year.
The trend in Newbury has been matched by neighbouring constituencies with both Reading East and West seeing starts go up.
Matt Garvey, managing director of apprenticeship provider West Berkshire Training Consortium. said: “Apprenticeship starts in Newbury are higher than ever while neighbouring areas are still making up lost ground on 2010-11.
“While here at WBTC we are very proud of our role in boosting the number of apprentices in our area, the real thanks must go to the employers who take on and train the apprentices.
“What is the really good news is that every start represents a great opportunity often for young people who are beginning their first role as a local apprentice.”
The figures, released by The House of Commons Library, come as the Government gears up for three million new apprentices by 2020.
Mr Garvey said: “Since 2010 there have been a total of 2.4 million starts so this ambitious figure, while stretching, is doable.
“However, perhaps most significant in the figures is the fact that 43 per cent of starts in 2014-15 were aged 25 plus.
“There is no doubt that the rise in apprenticeships is being driven by the older workers.
“Adult apprenticeships, particularly in the care sector, are especially popular and yet some critics believe that apprenticeships should be exclusively for younger people in their first job roles.
“Only 25 per cent of starts were aged under 19 and the percentage of starts aged 16 has actually fallen slightly since 2009.”
Funding arrangements and the content of apprenticeships will be changing from 2017, with employers expected to play a much larger role in the process.
Mr Garvey said: “The introduction of the apprentice levy and the rewriting of apprenticeship standards will present many challenges.
“However, employer-focused providers like WBTC are on hand to help employers navigate their way through the process and ease any red tape.
“I am personally excited by the opportunities for employers and young people alike and I hope that this increase in apprenticeship starts is just the beginning of a very successful trend here in West Berkshire.”
West Berkshire Training Consortium has been providing apprenticeships since 1983 and is a charity serving the local community.
For more information visit www.wbtc-uk.com.
For further free advice contact Mr Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (01635) 35975.