Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP has welcomed new statistics that show a record number of people in The Cotswolds started apprenticeship in 2011/12. The data also has provisional results for the number of apprenticeship starts in the first quarter of 2012/13 – in August to October 2012 230 people started apprenticeships in just three months.

In the last financial year, 570 people started an apprenticeship in The Cotswolds – an increase of 63 per cent compared to the last year of the Labour Government.

Mr Clifton-Brown commented:

“We will only succeed as a country when everyone is given the chance to reach their full potential. We have dramatically increased the number of apprenticeships on offer compared to the last Labour Government.

“These record levels of apprenticeships are fantastic news for our country, for The Cotswolds, and most of all for the people whose lives are being transformed by the opportunities they offer.”

· A record half a million people started an apprenticeship last year. 520,600 people started an apprenticeship in 2011-12. This is a record number and the first time ever that more than half a million people have started an apprenticeship in one year (Data Service, Apprenticeships, 31 January 2013, link).

· An 86 per cent increase in apprenticeships under this Government. 240,900 more people started an apprenticeship in 2011-12 compared to 2009-10, Labour’s last year in power. This represents an 86 per cent increase in the number of people starting an apprenticeship under the Coalition (ibid.).

· 166 more young apprentices every single day. The number of people aged under 25 starting an apprenticeship increased by 60,700 between 2009-10 and 2011-12. This is equivalent to an extra 166 young apprentices every day (Data Service, Apprenticeships, Quarterly starts and achievements by Level and Age, 31 January 2013, link).

Government action on apprenticeships:

· Investing in more apprenticeships. Over the lifetime of this parliament, we will fund 250,000 more apprenticeships than the last government planned (Hansard, 23 March 2011, Col. 961).

· Cash bonuses for small companies taking on young apprentices. We are offering employers with 50 employees or fewer up to £1,500 for taking on an apprentice aged between 16 and 24. This will support up to 40,000 new apprenticeships in 2012/13 (BIS Press Release, 7 February 2012, link).

· Investing in degree-level apprenticeships. At the moment, there aren’t enough opportunities for progression to further learning for apprentices. That is why we have established a £25 million Higher Apprenticeships Fund, to support up to 10,000 degree-level apprenticeships in areas such as aerospace and renewable energy technologies (BIS Press Release, 22 July 2011, link).

· Making it quicker and easier for employers to take on an apprentice. The National Apprenticeships Service and training providers will be required to ensure that every employer is able to advertise a vacancy within one month of deciding to take on an apprentice (BIS Press Release, 16 November 2011, link).

· Targeting apprenticeships where they are needed. We are renewing the programme’s focus on younger adults, new employees, higher level qualifications and particular sectors where apprenticeships can make the greatest impact (BIS Press Release, 16 November 2011, link).

· Equipping apprentices with basic skills. Apprenticeship providers are now required to offer all apprentices teaching in English and Maths up to the standard of a good GCSE (BIS Press Release, 16 November 2011, link).

· Cutting bureaucracy. Coalition measures to cut red tape for employers taking on apprentices include: piloting a ‘payment by outcomes’ system to eliminate a number of data returns and audit requirements; providing an online plain-English toolkit for employers; streamlining contracting arrangements; committing to no ‘in year’ changes to contracting arrangements, introducing a more proportionate approach to audit and inspection, reducing preparation time for employers; greater use of electronic information to reduce paperwork; and a more streamlined certification process (BIS Press Release, 6 September 2011, link).

Source: Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP Member of Parliament for The Cotswolds