The government is urging employers to boost the provision of apprenticeships for young people, insisting all school leavers should have the right to work as an apprentice.

Skills secretary John Denham said that while apprenticeship places have more than doubled in the last ten years, more needs to be done to ensure all qualified school leavers are able to benefit by 2013.

Apprenticeships are offered in a wide range of industries, such as construction, engineering, veterinary nursing and accounting. But according to government figures just one in 20 employers currently offers an apprenticeship place.

An apprenticeship bill will set out government plans to increase this figure and Mr Denham said he hopes apprenticeships will become "a typical choice for young people and adults" while ensuring that businesses get "the vital skills they need".

He also hopes to see more women taking up apprenticeships, particularly in traditionally male-dominated industries such as construction, plumbing and engineering.

Government figures show that only two per cent of plumbing and engineering apprenticeships are taken up by female apprentices.