Youngsters in South Tyneside are taking the apprtentice route into work
The area saw 1,050 people starting on genuine apprenticeship schemes in the nine months to April this year, according to the Department for Education – and 770 people in the borough actually achieved an apprenticeship qualification over the same period.
The most popular subject area chosen by the apprentices was business, administration and law.
The next most in demand subjects were engineering and manufacturing technologies, and health, public services and care.
Apprenticeship and Skills Minister Anne Milton said apprenticeships could be a “passport into a range of exciting industries”, such as nuclear, food science, law, engineering, digital technology, nursing and planning.
The Government says it will be focusing on improving apprenticeships in the 65 most deprived local authorities over the next two years.
Apprenticeships can take anywhere between one and five years to complete and those involved will, typically, spend one day a week studying at a college or training organisation and the rest training on the job under the guidance of experienced employees.
Apprenticeships are not just for school leavers.
In South Tyneside, people over the age of 25 and over were the second biggest group making up 35% of all apprenticeships taken up in the nine months to April, while 37% were aged 16-18 and 29% were 19-24.
The DfE publishes figures on three kinds of apprenticeships – intermediate, advanced, and higher.
In South Tyneside, 530 people began intermediate apprenticeships - the equivalent to GCSEs – last year, while 410 started advanced ones, the equivalent of A levels.
The remaining 110 embarked on competitive higher apprenticeships, which are on a par with foundation degrees or above.
Across England, around 290,500 workers began new apprenticeships over the same period, and more than 181,600 successfully finished one.
However, this was 156,400 fewer than during the same nine month period in the 2016-17 academic year.
The fall in numbers have been blamed on the introduction of the new Apprenticeship Levy – a tax that some larger employers pay towards a national fund for the training of apprentices – in April 2017.
Ms Milton added: “New, high-quality apprenticeships are being developed at all levels, all the time.
“We have a range of measures in place to help people from all backgrounds to take up an apprenticeship, and we give extra funding to providers training apprentices in the most disadvantaged areas.”