By Ian Dipple Friday 01 March 2013 Updated: 01/03 09:47
THE NUMBER of apprenticeships created in Redditch has more than doubled since the start of the financial crisis.
Figures from the National Apprenticeship Service show just 380 apprentices were taken on in 2007/08 but the number recruited leapt to 950 in 2011/12.
Between April and June last year - the latest figures available - 380 apprentices were employed by borough businesses and if the trend continues it means the final total for this financial year could break the 1,000 mark.
Surprisingly more apprentices are being taken on in the over 25 age group than any other, accounting for more than half of all apprenticeships created in 2011/12, while just 150 were created in the under 19s age group.
A grant of £1,500 is on offer for employers of less than 1,000 people who take on a young person aged 16 to 24 as an apprentice and who have not recruited an apprentice before or in the last 12 months. The money is on top of funding to meet all or part of any training costs involved.
David Way, chief executive of the National Apprenticeship Service, said he was pleased the number of apprenticeships was growing but the focus would now be on creating more in the 16 to 18 age category.
Redditch MP Karen Lumley welcomed the figures which she said showed the Government was delivering on the promise made in its manifesto and coalition agreement.
“I object most strongly to this 50 per cent target for people to go to university, we need to have more of a focus on vocational training and I believe apprenticeships are the way forward. Although we have more to do this is good news and I hope the figure continues to rise year on year.”
Redditch Borough Council has launched its own challenge to get businesses to create 50 apprenticeships in 50 days and is close to passing the halfway mark.
Council leader Bill Hartnett said: “Businesses in the town are telling me they are creating more and more apprenticeships each year and that’s good news. Businesses are realising apprenticeships are a good deal. It’s a win, win, win situation for the business, young person and the town as the workforce is upskilled.”
The news comes as latest figures show unemployment rose in Redditch in January for the first time in six months. The number of people claiming jobseekers allowance was 1,931 - up 156 on December. Experts say the increase in January is traditional following the end of temporary positions created around Christmas.
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