I am pleased to be supporting National Apprenticeship Week 2016 in North Shropshire this month. We will all benefit from an increasing number of quality apprenticeships on offer as the Government heads toward its target of three million apprenticeship starts nationwide by 2020.

Providing young people with the best start to get on in life and have a rewarding career is incredibly important. Apprenticeships can give young people the opportunity to learn valuable skills while earning at the same time. They are proven to raise the productivity of the businesses they join. Skills Minister Nick Boles summarised “apprenticeships are at the heart of the Government’s drive to equip people with the skills employers want and need”.

Since May 2010 over 2.62 million apprenticeships have been started in England. Locally, there have been 5,740 apprenticeships in North Shropshire since 2009/2010, benefiting both businesses and young people. As a result of the hard work by Government, employers and apprentices, youth unemployment is down and the youth claimant count is at its lowest level since the 1970s. This is a remarkable achievement.

The Government is making a £1 billion commitment to deliver 3 million apprenticeships. 268,000 have started in this Parliament alone. To help employers, it is now cheaper for businesses to hire an apprentice. From April 2016 employers will not have to pay employer's National Insurance Contributions for apprentices under the age of 25. Business-minded incentives such as these are invaluable to the growing economy in North Shropshire.

As part of Apprenticeship Week, there will be local events to connect employers and students interested in pursuing an apprenticeship. Shropshire Apprenticeships LIVE! will be held in Shrewsbury Town Football Ground on Monday 14th March 2016 from 3:00pm. The day is sponsored by Shropshire Council and local Apprenticeship promoter the Ladder for Shropshire. Ladder for Shropshire works with young people and employers to promote the Apprenticeship route across Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin. Since April last year they have helped place over 80 apprentices in to work and created over 160 new opportunities.

North Shropshire College are also doing great work in the area, increasing vocational courses, teaching practical skills such as plumbing and bricklaying.  They have increased apprenticeship success rates above the national average. 

I am looking forward to seeing apprenticeships in action when I visit The Mounts, off Haroldgate in Whitchurch as part of National Apprenticeship Week to meet the carpentry apprentice on site employed by David Wilson Homes.

This year’s National Apprenticeship Week takes place between the 9th and 13th of March. More information can be found on  I encourage local businesses, schools, parents and students to look into the many routes, options and opportunities available.