Nearly 800 guaranteed jobs for out-of-work young people and school leavers are being created at a host of top Sheffield firms.
Companies ranging from steel giant Tata - which is creating 30 posts - to Kier and Sheffield Wednesday football club, and even small businesses such as Woodhouse Pharmacy, are getting involved in the apprenticeship scheme.
Some 760 two-year apprenticeships will be available from this autumn.
The new programme was launched at Sheffield College on Granville Road yesterday, at an event attended by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and businesses.
Sheffield Hallam MP Mr Clegg said: “It’s fantastic news.
“I want to create one million new jobs across the UK, and providing more opportunities for young people is a big aspect of the plan.
“The key thing is encouraging more companies to take part.
“We are trying to make apprenticeships simpler so that more small firms will be involved.”
In Sheffield, there has been a 54 per cent increase in people starting apprenticeships over the last three years - and the total number of people who have benefited from an apprenticeship since 2010 has risen to 12,270.
This year’s intake represents a 15 per cent increase on last, when around 650 places were available.
One of the smaller companies involved, Woodhouse Pharmacy, is taking on an apprentice for a second year.
Brigitte Waring from the firm said: “Our first apprentice who started last year, Genna Hibberson, has been a great success and will be very highly qualified in a short space of time.”
Genna, aged 18, from Hillsborough, who is studying for BTEC and NVQ qualifications which will enable her to become a fully-fledged pharmacist, said: “I had taken a previous college course but quit, and I was working at Pizza Hut and then Shoe Zone.
“There was a lot of competition for my apprenticeship place, but I always wanted to be a pharmacist.
“It’s hopefully the start of a very good career.”
Michael Hood, human resources director for Tata Speciality Steels, said his firm will be offering 30 apprenticeships in Sheffield.
“Young people are a valuable investment – without them, an organisation will die,” he said.
“Our apprenticeships are a pathway to bigger things – these kids grow up with the business and some go on to pass degrees and other qualifications.”
Andrew Cropley, an executive director for Sheffield College, said: “We are very pleased – the number of places we are able to offer this year is 15 per cent higher than last.
“Apprenticeships have a really huge impact on young people – they are the first step towards a really positive career.”
Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce who becomes the college’s chair of governors in September, added: “People make businesses.
“If employers take on the right people, apprentices can solve a lot of problems and help firms’ longevity.”
■ Young people and businesses can find out more about the apprenticeship scheme by emailing email@example.com or calling 0114 260 2600.