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New NAS must boost apprenticeship numbers

A National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) has been launched this month to manage apprenticeships across England and increase the number of apprenticeships available.
The NAS aims to meet the government's commitment to ensure that every suitably qualified young person has the right to an apprenticeship by 2013.

The service will focus on making it as easy as possible for bosses to take on apprentices by streamlining the application process and offering support at every step for both the employer and apprentice.

The NAS is committing £1.1 billion to help deliver 129,000 apprenticeships in 2009/10 and has pledged to create an additional 21,000 apprenticeships in the public sector.

With 180 apprenticeships across 80 different industries, the types available are constantly being increased and updated - ensuring that apprenticeships stay relevant for the future.

A new online matching service has already been helping employers advertise vacancies and prospective apprentices to apply for apprenticeships. To date more than 10,000 employers and almost 54,000 candidates have registered for this service and there are more than 4,000 live vacancies available.

More than 94% of the 3,808 apprentices surveyed throughout January 2009 on behalf of the Learning and Skills Council, believed taking an apprenticeship has provided a number of benefits including better job prospects, higher salaries, improved confidence, better social skills and a stronger sense of direction.

In total, 3,215 had completed their apprenticeships.

In addition, 89% found employment immediately after their apprenticeship ended; very often through the employer they completed their apprenticeship with.

Lord Young, Skills and Apprenticeship minister and Sarah McCarthy-Fry, Schools minister celebrated the launch by meeting with apprentices.

Skills and Apprenticeship Minister, Lord Young said: 'Apprenticeship numbers have more than trebled over the past ten years and the new service will play an integral part in meeting our Apprenticeship targets'.

Simon Waugh, chief executive of the National Apprenticeship Service said: 'Apprentices make things happen. Research and detailed case studies have consistently demonstrated they are vital to businesses and the economy, helping increase productivity and competitiveness. The NAS will build on this success by ensuring businesses are more informed of these benefits and can take advantage of them by offering apprenticeship places.

Waugh added: 'In the current climate apprenticeships offer the best of both worlds; giving employers access to a pool of talent that can be shaped to improve business performance and providing people with a great start in their chosen career.'

In a recent survey commissioned by the LSC of 500 employers who employ apprentices, 81% of businesses said apprentices helped to generate higher overall productivity. Two-thirds of employers surveyed believe their apprentices help them to be more competitive in their businesses (66%).

The service has ultimate accountability for the national delivery of targets and co-ordination of the funding for apprenticeship places.

The NAS reports to the Departments for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) and Children, Schools and Families (DCSF).
28 April 2009

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