ALMOST half of businesses in East Lancashire plan to take on apprentices in the next five years, according to new research released today.

The study of 600 businesses, by the National Apprenticeship Service, also reveals that one third of businesses in the North West plan to take on one or more apprentices in the next 12 months alone.

One company planning to take on apprentices is E & D Domestic Appliances, in Union Road, Oswaldtwistle.

Owner Edmund D’Rozario said he will expand his business and take on two apprentices when he moves in empty Market Street Works building, in Market Street, Church, in May.

Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable, pledged his support for apprenticeship schemes after visiting Burnley last week.

He said: “It’s good to see that employers are increasingly recognising the value apprentices can bring to their businesses.

“Apprentices are now a key and valued part of the workforce for most businesses large or small.

“The huge increase which this Government has overseen is one of my proudest achievements.”