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Plea for apprenticeship places in East Lancashire
A PLEA for more apprenticeships has been made by MPs and business leaders after the amount of applications in East Lancashire was found to vastly outnumber the places available.
East Lancashire’s Chamber of Commerce chief executive Mike Damms said that he was ‘disappointed’ after the latest figures for apprenticeships revealed that an average of four people were chasing each vacancy in the area.
According to statistics released by the National Apprenticeship Service, 1,700 people living in Blackburn, an increase of 117%, applied online for one of 450 vacancies, while in Burnley — which saw its highest application figures in the same period with 1,170 – saw similar vacancy shortfalls.
The rises were among the largest in the country with only Rutland and Newham seeing greater interest in apprenticeships. Although the number of available contracts in Blackburn increased from 230 in August 2012 and offered a larger application success rate than in London where 17 applicants chased each vacancy, Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle, said employers were still being ‘unnecessarily’ hesitant about creating apprenticeship roles.
He ‘urged’ each employer to take on at least one apprentice in the coming year.
Mr Birtwistle, who is also the government’s apprenticeship ambassador, said: “It’s amazing that so many people have taken the initiative to become apprentices and their keenness should be applauded. But much still needs to be done to convince employers that apprentices are great assets.
“Some employers still don’t realise that, as part of the training contracts, apprentices will be brought up to scratch with maths and English skills taught by the training providers.”
And Mr Damms said: “I’m a bit disappointed that the rate of positions is much less than the number of applicants.
“We have a lot of small to medium businesses who may be a bit more financially cautious.
“I hope in the coming year this attitude will change and employers realise apprenticeships are not just suitable for traditional industries but for new ones too.”
Nationally, apprenticeships are now available in 170 different industries. To apply for, or advertise a vacancy, visit apprenticeships.org.uk or call 08000 150 600.
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