Boost for apprenticeship places

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An extra 5,000 apprenticeship places have been created to help people of all ages enter and progress in the job market despite the current economic conditions….

An extra 5,000 apprenticeship places have been created to help people of all ages enter and progress in the job market despite the current economic conditions.

The new places have been created through a total investment of £9.1 million, including over £4 million of European Social Fund money, and have the potential to provide additional support to at least 500 employers across Scotland.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) will work with training providers and businesses to deliver the 5,000 apprenticeships which will be available to anyone aged 16 and above. This is in addition to the 15,000 opportunities SDS is already offering and brings the total number of training opportunities this year to 39,500.

Skills Minister Keith Brown said:

“This Government has an absolute commitment to supporting a strong economic recovery, coupled with the longer-term aim of sustainable economic growth.

“We are out of recession but the recovery remains fragile, which is why we continue to prioritise investment in a range of skills and training opportunities to support people into jobs, to develop in those jobs and ensure we have a workforce fit for purpose.

“We are already providing a minimum of 34,500 training opportunities, including 5,000 new flexible places to specifically meet the needs of our employers and businesses. These extra Modern Apprenticeships, for all ages, brings the total number of opportunities for work-focused training to almost 40,000.

“We know the current economic climate is creating particular pressures on colleges and young people. Today’s announcement follows the 20,000 modern apprenticeships delivered last year and the £15 million secured by the Scottish Funding Council to fund 4,100 extra college places in 2010/11 – on top of the record-breaking near £700 million already provided.”

Damien Yeates, Chief Executive, Skills Development Scotland said:

“Scotland’s economy is showing a return to growth. Although this is positive news, economic recovery is fragile and there is a continued need to assist Scottish businesses to upgrade their skills base. Investments such as this allow us to give this support to businesses in a time when they need to be at their most productive, as well as boosting employment opportunities for people across a wide range of sectors.

“Modern Apprenticeships deliver key vocational skills needed by the Scottish economy. For many years businesses have benefited from motivated and capable trainees and it’s very encouraging that yet more people and organisations will be able to make use of the additional places announced today.”

In 2009-10 the Scottish Government invested £16 million to fund 7,800 additional Modern Apprenticeship starts – supporting a target of 18,500 new starts across Scotland.

This target was exceeded with 20,216 people starting an apprenticeship.

In the latest round, approximately 10,000 apprenticeship places were allocated for those aged 16-19 as a key priority group during and following the recession.

This follows the announcement in April that businesses in Scotland had already signed up to employ more than 7,000 modern apprentices this financial year.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) was at the centre of a furore last month after Labour’s Holyrood leader Iain Gray appeared to make false allegations against the organisation.  Mr Gray had claimed that the organisation was planning to spend £555,000 changing it’s name to ‘Scotland – The Works’, the allegations were swiftly denied by SDS.  The row engulfed BBC political editor Brian Taylor who appeared to support the Labour claims on his ‘Blether with Brian’ blog and announced that Labour had published a document in support of the claim.  To date Newsnet Scotland has been unable to track down any such document.