TRAINING run by major Sheffield businesses, including Forgemasters, have led to the number of apprenticeships in the city rising by 45 per cent – with almost 5,500 city youngsters on one of the placements in the last year.
Figures released by the Government show the number of apprentices in Sheffield rose from 3,750 during 2009/10 to 5,440 in 2010/11.
Apprenticeships give people the skills and experience needed to succeed in the job market – viewed as crucial when youth unemployment has risen above one million.
To support more employers, especially small businesses, to take on apprentices, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has announced measures to further increase the number of schemes available.
Employers with up to 50 staff will be offered an incentive payment of £1,500 to take on apprentices aged 16-24 and the advertising process for apprentices will be simplified to save time and money.
The figures were welcomed by Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, leader of the Lib Dem group on Sheffield Council.
He said: “Apprenticeships are beneficial to all involved and the record rise in learners taking them up is great news for Sheffield and the economy as a whole.
“There are now 5,440 Sheffielders who are directly benefiting from apprenticeships – 45 per cent more than under Labour.
“Small businesses form the backbone of our economy and the announcements by Vince Cable, are very welcome. They show the Coalition Government is determined to do the right thing and create sustainable growth, driven by our local employers.”
Mr Cable said: “The apprenticeships programme is a success story, with record numbers of learners starting an apprenticeship this year.”
Sheffield Forgemasters is one of the city’s leading providers of apprenticeships and has taken on 17 young people this year – from 200 who applied.
Ryan Pugh, aged 17, from Greenhill, who is among the new faces at the company, said: “The apprenticeship scheme here offers many career paths to follow for a great company. This is the best apprenticeship opportunity available.”