Last updated: 09.12.14

Two million apprenticeships since 2010

Since 2010, there have been two million apprenticeships in the UK, meaning the government has reached its target to challenge youth unemployment in this parliament.

According to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the number of apprenticeships that have been undertaken since 2010 equate to filling the Olympic Stadium 25 times over - around the same size of the Birmingham and Leeds populations together.

In 2013/14, there were 440,400 apprenticeship starts - down from 510,200 starts in 2012/13 - according to official figures.

The data also showed that in 2010/11 there were 457,200 new apprenticeship starts, with this figure rising to 520,600 in 2011/12.

Paige McConville is the UK's two-millionth apprentice, who started an advanced apprenticeship in engineering manufacture with FMB Oxford in August.

To mark the milestone, business secretary Vince Cable visited Oxford to meet the 16-year-old.

Mr Cable described Ms McConville as a "shining example" to other youngsters and stressed the advantages of apprenticeships in helping young people move into the world of employment.

He also announced 22 new apprenticeships in sectors such as health and social care, and civil engineering, that have been created by employers as part of a government initiative whereby businesses meet the demands of their industry.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has welcomed the news and said it is crucial that employers provide more young people with opportunities to kick-start their careers.

Neil Carberry, director for employment and skills at the CBI, said: "Apprenticeships are an essential route to tackling youth unemployment and narrowing the UK's skills gap, and today's milestone is testament to the thousands of employers who have taken on apprentices.

"As the programme grows, it is vital that we make progress on giving more young people a chance to build good careers with higher-level apprenticeships."

Mr Carberry added that businesses need to be one step ahead in order to see the full benefits of apprenticeships, including the government providing funds directly to firms.

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