Campaign to create 100 Norfolk apprenticeships in 100 days
A major campaign is being launched to create apprenticeships in Norfolk to build a new generation of skilled workers and help companies grow.
Called 'Challenge Norfolk 100 in 100', the initiative aims to encourage businesses to recruit 100 apprentices in 100 days.
The EDP and Evening News are backing the campaign which comes during National Apprenticeship Week and amid growing evidence that young people are looking for work opportunities instead of going to university and having to pay more in tuition fees.
Businesses have the chance to get behind the initiative by signing up to the campaign tomorrow at City College Norwich, St Andrew's House, Norwich, from 6pm to 7.30pm.
Jon Nay, regional director of the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) in the East of England, said: 'Day after day we hear how much apprenticeships have increased productivity, improved loyalty and given a great return on investment for companies.
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'Apprenticeship Week is the time to celebrate these successes – and urge more companies to reap the benefits for themselves and more individuals to consider apprenticeships as their career option.'
Apprenticeships are at the heart of the government's skills strategy, with an increase in funding for on-the-job training in 2011-12 to more than �1.4bn.
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Skills minister John Hayes said: 'The government is backing apprenticeships because we want local business and communities to prosper and young people to learn the skills that build successful careers. I know businesses that want to get ahead will do the same.'
After a downturn in the 1980s, apprenticeship numbers nationally rose sharply under Labour from 60,000 young people in 1997 to almost 300,000 in the past year. It is hoped that 400,000 people will be enrolled by 2014-15.
Earlier this week, business secretary Vince Cable said creating a new generation of highly skilled workers was crucial to the future of firms and economic growth, adding: 'Apprenticeships are a first-class way to start a career.'
And a new survey by City & Guilds, which awards qualifications for apprentices, showed that employers are increasingly of the view that apprentices are worth more to their businesses than graduates. Mr Hayes said that the goal was to 'see apprentices achieve equivalent esteem and status' as university graduates.
The campaign is being developed in Norfolk with a number of events and activities taking place.
These include a Back to the Floor event, with the managing director of retail outlet Jarrold swapping places for the day with an apprentice, Great Yarmouth College's Apprenticeship Awards and events run by the College of West Anglia to highlight the success of apprentices and raise awareness.