Apprentice applications on the rise

SOME 7,000 young people in Wigan borough are on apprenticeship schemes new figures show, and numbers are expected to increase further.

Wigan Council figures have revealed that nearly 3,000 of those in apprenticeships are over the age of 25 and experts believe it reveals a change in direction when it comes to young people and their futures.

Council chiefs say they already have 40 apprenticeships in place at the local authority and have revealed that seven have already gone on to find full-time employment.

Wigan Council head of information, advice, learning and skills, Carol Halford, said: “Wigan Council recognises the importance of investing in our future, and apprenticeships are a great example of this in action.

“The council launched its apprenticeship scheme in October 2012 and now has more than 40 apprentices working across many areas.

“They were recruited on fixed term contracts, initially for 12 months, but some have been extended to progress on the apprenticeship programme, from level two to level three. Seven apprentices have already gone on to permanent employment.”

With university tuition fees rising, many people are considering a more direct route into employment after leaving school following their GCSEs or A-levels.

The National Apprenticeship Service said around 2,500 vacancies were posted online by firms in the region in the financial year to the end of March, which was up from 2,000 the year before.

And there are currently around 2,150 positions currently being advertised across sectors ranging from retail and manufacturing to the law and IT.

But with each advertised vacancy currently attracting an average of nine applicants, more businesses are being urged to consider hiring apprenticeships, rather than looking exclusively at graduates.

The National Apprenticeship Service claims more than half of the young people in the north west would want to do an apprenticeship it was available.

Sue Price, divisional area director for the National Apprenticeship Service in the north, said: “The good news is that with ever more apprenticeships, there is an increasing range of high quality options and career paths available to young people.

“They are a great way for young people to earn while they learn in a real job, gaining a real qualification, setting them on the road to success in their chosen career.”