National Apprenticeship Week is about banging the drum for apprenticeships.

It is about showcasing the excellent work that has been taking place across the country and it is about shouting from the rooftop — an apprenticeship can take you anywhere.

Apprenticeships embody one simple idea — opportunity.

They are an opportunity for young people to gain hands on experience in the workplace while getting a top class qualification.

We have been putting employers in the driving seat in designing apprenticeships.

Businesses now have a say on how apprenticeships run and what they have to offer.

This new apprenticeship known as a Trailblazer is already being supported by over 1,300 employers who have designed and published 205 new apprenticeship standards.

It’s great to see businesses getting stuck in and grabbing the opportunity to take on apprentices knowing they will help their businesses grow.

It’s great to see businesses getting stuck in and grabbing the opportunity to take on apprentices knowing they will help their businesses grow.

I hope National Apprenticeship Week will inspire and motivate a whole new cohort of businesses to get on-board and start designing apprenticeships.

We have got together some of the big names in business from Fujitsu to Barclays to get out into the business community and shine the light on apprenticeships through the Apprenticeship Delivery Board.

Over the past 20 years we have seen investment and training in skills decline, which is why we are introducing an apprenticeship levy to ensure a highly skilled workforce for the future.

Coming into force in April 2017, the levy will only be paid by employers with a pay bill of £3m or more,
that’s less than 2 per cent of employers.

The funding will be in the hands of employers through the Digital Apprenticeship Service which will give them genuine control of the training they buy.

Over the last parliament, we had 2.4m apprenticeship starts and we know for the vast majority this means a long and lasting job.

I want to continue along this road and create 3m more apprenticeships by 2020.

The opportunities don’t stop there.

If you don’t think you’re ready for an apprenticeship how about a traineeship?

Click here to read Shadow Skills Minister Gordon Marsden’s exclusive expert piece on National Apprenticeship Week 2016.

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