Vic Grimes – director of the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) for London and the South East – delivered the rallying call at an employer engagement event on Thursday (9 February).
The roadshow, held at MidKent College’s Medway Campus and organised by the Kent Association of Training Organisations (Kato), coincided with National Apprenticeship Week (6-10 February).
Mr Grimes said: “We have a really good story to tell about apprentices in England.
“Last year there were more than 457,000 apprenticeship starts – a 63 per cent increase on the previous year – and for the first time in this country more young people are choosing to take that route instead of university.
“More than one million 16-24-year-olds in England are Neet (Not in Employment, Education or Training) so we need to continue creating opportunities for them.
“Young people get a bad press generally but the ones I’ve met through NAS are ambassadors for their age group. All they want is an opportunity to prove themselves, and that’s where employers come in.”
MidKent College is approved by the Skills Funding Agency to offer both Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships.
Principal Stephen Grix studied bricklaying at the College as a 15-year-old and was later taken on as an apprentice.
Speaking at the Kato event, Mr Grix said: “When looking at the future employment prospects for their children, it won’t be long before there’s much more interest in apprentices generally from parents – but we’re not there yet.
“Apprentices are fantastic for young people who want to develop their careers.”
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