If every person who started an Engineering Apprenticeship this year stood arm-to-arm, they would stretch across the Clifton suspension bridge in Bristol 150 times, according to the National Apprenticeship Service which is today launching its seventh annual Apprenticeship Awards.
More than 36,000 people began an Engineering Apprenticeship in 2009 – an increase of 17% over the last three years. The Awards celebrate these starters and all of England’s apprentices, along with the businesses that employ them.
Simon Waugh, Chief Executive of the National Apprenticeship Service said: "The Apprenticeship Awards recognise the achievements of individuals engaged in training and the organisations that invest in them.
"Apprentices provide a real boost to Britain’s economy, helping businesses secure a supply of people with the skills and qualities often not available on the external job market. They bring fresh ideas and innovation to organisations and help to increase staff retention."
Research shows that employers who hire apprentices can recoup their investment in as little as 18 months, with apprentices continuing to make a positive financial contribution to a business if retained. Trade sectors such as hospitality, retail, construction and business administration generally have the shortest payback period, with engineering and social care taking no more than four years.
Kevin Brennan, Minister for Further Education, Skills, Apprenticeships and Consumer Affairs, said: "I’m delighted to support the annual Apprenticeship Awards and have seen first-hand the benefits that apprentices bring to businesses of all different sectors and sizes.
"Let’s reward apprentice employers and young people for their hard work and commitment and I’d encourage anyone who knows an apprentice or organisation that employs one to make a nomination."
Iain Wright, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for 14-19 Reform and Apprenticeships said: "The Awards highlight apprentice success stories from all over the country. I congratulate these inspirational apprentices who are making such a difference in the organisations where they work.
"Apprenticeships are an excellent option for young people and these award winners demonstrate the hugely positive impact apprentices can have on employers and their communities."
To nominate an employer or apprentice for an Award, go to apprenticeships.org.uk/Awards or call 08000 150 600 to find out more about Apprenticeships. Entries close on 27 February 2010.