PRCA and Pearson in Practice has announced plans to create 600 apprentices in public relations over the next three years.

The programme, developed in partneship with Edexcel and CfA, follows a successful application to the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) worth £1.2 million over two years.

The new scheme, set to start in September 2012, will target learners who have chosen not to pursue a degree at university.

Francis Ingham, Chief Executive of PRCA, said: “The PR industry contributes £7.5bn per year to the UK economy.

“It’s about time we had an apprenticeship scheme to ensure a steady stream of high calibre candidates for our industry.”

PRCA and Pearson in Practice will spend the next 12 months working with employers and practitioners to develop the programme for employer and employee needs.

John Hayes, Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, said: “This new partnership is great news for the public relations industry, and for ambitious young people who want to forge a career in this vital sector.”

Fiona McBride, CEO of Pearson in Practice added: “We welcome the emphasis that is now being placed on higher level apprenticeships as a true and credible alternative to university education.

“It reveals what we believe is a sea change in public opinion about the value of vocational learning and demonstrates a widespread understanding of the important role that apprenticeships play in setting young people on the path towards not just a job, but a sustainable and fulfilling career.”

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