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Prime Minister: apprenticeships are central to rebuilding economy

David Cameron: "I want it to be the new norm for young people to either go to university or into an apprenticeship."

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

To mark the start of National Apprenticeship Week Prime Minister David Cameron met with young apprentices at Mercedes-Benz in Milton Keynes, where he set out a vision for it to become the new norm for young people to either go to university or start an apprenticeship.

The Prime Minister will challenge employers, educators, and the government on how we can reach this aspiration and expand apprenticeship opportunities for young people, so that those who aspire to get ahead and want to take one up can. This is similar to what happens in Germany where the vast majority of school leavers go to university or into an apprenticeship

It comes on the day that the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) forecast that apprenticeship completions over the next decade could contribute up to £3.4 billion a year to the economy through productivity gains by 2022. And follows the announcement from Barclays that as well as recruiting thousands of their own apprentices, they will work to promote apprenticeships to their business customers so that they create a further 10,000 new apprenticeships.

The government is committed to ensuring more people can access high quality apprenticeships - and is already investing record amounts with up to £1.5bn this year alone.

To strengthen the apprenticeship programme the government will this week formally respond to the Richard Review. The review looks to improve the quality of apprenticeships and raise standards, and give employers much more direct control over the design and delivery of apprenticeships, which will be a key step towards achieving the vision set out by the Prime Minister.

Mr Cameron said:

Apprenticeships are at the heart of our mission to rebuild the economy, giving young people the chance to learn a trade, to build their careers, and create a truly world-class, high-skilled workforce that can compete and thrive in the fierce global race we are in.

There are record numbers of people taking up an apprenticeship, with a million starting one in the last few years. And as we take forward the Richard Review, our drive to reform and strengthen apprenticeships, raising standards and making them more rigorous and responsive to the needs of employers - means that an apprenticeship is increasingly seen as a first choice career move.

But we need to challenge ourselves to go even further, that is why I want it to be the new norm for young people to either go to university or into an apprenticeship. We need to look at how we can expand apprenticeship opportunities so that they are available to all young people who are ready and eager to take them up, and aspire to get ahead in life.

[View the story “National Apprenticeship Week 2013 #NAW2013” on Storify.]

Published 11 March 2013