Pat McFadden has spoken of the benefits of apprenticeshipsThe government has this month launched its National Apprenticeship Week, which celebrates the commitment of employers to recruit apprentices. 

It is also hoped the event will encourage people to look at the benefits to their skills and career of becoming an apprentice. 

Over the next year, major employers in the UK are expecting to hire thousands of apprentices and the government is encouraging all businesses to take up the new Apprentice Grant for Employers scheme, which offers a £2,500 grant for each 16 or 17-year-old apprentice taken on. 

Business minister Pat McFadden said that with so many firms planning to begin the recruitment process in 2010, this was good news for the whole economy. 

“It shows employers increasingly recognise the benefits they get from hiring apprentices. Undertaking an apprenticeship is a great way of learning a trade and gaining vocational experience,” he added. 

Mr McFadden went on to note skills would form an important art of economic recovery, leading him to urge employers to boost their competitiveness, innovation and growth by taking on apprentices. 

Commenting on the news, Craig Abrahart, operations director at, said having a viable alternative to university would be “imperative” in getting young people back to work. 

Tom Wilson, Director of unionlearn said: ‘Unionlearn welcomes the celebration of apprenticeships this week and urges employers to use the £2,500 Government grants for 16 and 17 years olds to be taken on to the scheme. The TUC is working with employers to ensure that these are robust qualifications that lead to real jobs and pay fair wages. Unionlearn trains reps in the workforce to support and mentor apprentices during their training.’