New statistics showing a rise in the number of Apprenticeships in engineering and manufacturing are “extremely encouraging”, says EAL, the specialist awarding organisation for industry qualifications.

Provisional data* published by government yesterday (Thursday, June 28) showed that in the first nine months of the 2011/12 academic year 44,130 people started an Apprenticeship in engineering and manufacturing technologies. This compares with 48,970 starts in the entire 12 month 2010/11 academic year.

The construction, planning and built environment sector has also shown promising results, with 20,620 Apprenticeship starts in the first nine months of 2011/12, compared with 28,090 starts in the whole of 2010/11.

Ann Watson, Managing Director of EAL, said: “It has been well established that the manufacturing and engineering sector is facing skills shortages. Therefore, it is vitally important that young people are enthused about jobs in these industries.

“It is extremely encouraging to see that more opportunities are being provided, as shown in the latest Apprenticeship figures, and that employers are embracing this golden education pathway. We must now continue to push growth in this sector if we are to meet the demand for skilled workers.”

The rise in the number of Apprenticeships has coincided with news that the proportion of 16-to-18 year olds not in education, employment or training (NEETs) has risen from 7.5 per cent to 8.1 per cent between 2010 and 2011**. It has also been revealed that there is a rising number of students who are being left jobless after graduating from university – over 20,000 according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency***.

Ann added: “It is now more important than ever that learners have options. University fees are set to rise this year and yet more and more graduates are finding themselves out of work. Apprenticeships are giving school leavers a much needed alternative option to learn high-level skills, gain vital work experience and enter a fulfilling career in a variety of sectors.

“It is important that we continue to stimulate growth in Apprenticeship provision, both to provide learners with options and give sectors vital to the economy, such as engineering and manufacturing, the skilled and experienced workforce that is so vitally needed.”

Overall, the number of people starting an Apprenticeship in England has continued to increase. The provisional data shows that the figure currently stands at 383,200 for the period between August 2011 and April 2012.

Skills Minister John Hayes said: “The growth in Apprenticeships is really welcome news. The government has put apprenticeships at the heart of our skills policy because they equip people with the skills they need for a prosperous future and provide businesses with the expertise they need to grow.

“As we look to rebalance our economy, it is particularly encouraging to see an increase in the number of apprentices in the engineering and manufacturing sector.”

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