Apprenticeships on the increase

Over 100,000 additional apprenticeship places have been created during the past year.

The extra course places more than outstrip the Government's target of 50,000 for 2011.

The total number of UK apprenticeships now stands at 257,000. 

Although promising, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has warned that the good work could be undermined by high dropout rates.

Almost a quarter of apprentices leave training before completing their courses.

Gillian Econopouly, head of public policy at the REC, argued that, while it is encouraging to see that the number of apprentices in the UK has increased, more needs to be done to promote the benefits to businesses of taking on an apprentice.

She added: "The other big challenge is to ensure that those who start an apprenticeship finish it, and secure longer-term employment once they have built up the skills for their future careers.

"The recruitment industry must also play its part by developing apprenticeships within the sector, and utilising its employment expertise to match the right candidate to the right job for the right employer."