ONCE again the Worcester News 100 in 100 apprentices campaign has gone above and beyond its target to provide youngsters with crucial work experience.

The aim was to sign up 100 local companies to take on 100 apprentices in 100 days but since its launch on Monday, March 5, a total of 145 companies have answered the call to provide 214 youngsters with placements.

It was achieved by teaming up with the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) and several key organisations, such as Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce, Worcestershire County Council and Skills for Security, to help find jobs for local youngsters facing record youth unemployment levels.

In January, the youth unemployment rate rose to 20.3 per cent, which is the highest since records began in 1992.

The ultimate goal was to encourage employers, learning providers and partners to influence the business community to increase the number of apprenticeship vacancies and raise the profile of apprenticeships.

Karen Woodward, West Midlands regional apprenticeship director for NAS, said: “For young people just leaving school they provide an opportunity to earn a wage, gain valuable experience of the world of work and, vitally, gain recognised qualifications that will stand them in good stead for the future.”

“For businesses they are a financially efficient way of bringing enthusiastic people into their workforce, giving them the chance to invest in the future of their companies.

“This has been an exceptional campaign and underlines the true motive behind the challenge – to begin a shift in attitudes towards apprenticeships and help individuals and businesses understand the benefits they can bring.”

Along the way the campaign drew praise from the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, the body charged with attracting new business to the county, with chairman Peter Pawsey highlighting its role in getting the community thinking about apprenticeships.

During the challenge, apprenticeships have remained high on the Government’s agenda and a £1.5 billion investment has been made to continue the development of the levels, quality and availability of apprenticeships.