Lord Sugar should look in Mansfield and Ashfield for his next apprentice
Business mogul Lord Sugar is back on our screens looking for his next '˜apprentice'.
And new figures suggest he could do worse than search in Mansfield and Ashfield.
According to the Department for Education (DfE), Mansfield can boast of 730 people starting on genuine apprenticeship schemes in the nine months to April this year, while Ashfield has an even more impressive 930.
And forget the brash, sometimes larger-than-life claims of Lord Sugar’s confident candidates - 470 people in Mansfield and 570 people in Ashfield actually achieved an apprenticeship qualification over the same period.
Just like Lord Sugar’s hopefuls, it seems the apprentices of Mansfield and Ashfield also harbour ambitions to conquer the business world.
The most popular subject area chosen by the apprentices was business, administration and law.
The next most in demand subjects were health, public services and care, and engineering and manufacturing technologies.
Anne Milton MP, Minister for Apprenticeship and Skills, 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.
Far from being a quick route to the top, as Lord Sugar’s candidates are hoping for, apprenticeships in reality can take anywhere between one and five years to complete.
An apprentice will typically spend one day a week studying at a college or training organisation, while spending the rest training on the job under the guidance of experienced employees.
While popular wisdom might have you believe that apprenticeships are a route mainly for school leavers, this is not the case in Mansfield and Ashfield.
Those aged 25 and over made up 45 per cent in Mansfield, and 40 per cent in Ashfield, of all apprenticeships taken up in the nine months to April.
In Mansfield, 27 per cent were aged 19-24 and 26 per cent were 16-18.
The figures were 30 per cent and 29 per cent respectively for Ashfield.
The DfE publishes figures on three kinds of apprenticeships - intermediate, advanced, and higher.
In Mansfield, 360 people began intermediate apprenticeships - the equivalent to GCSEs - last year, while 280 started advanced ones, the equivalent of A levels.
The remaining 80 embarked on competitive higher apprenticeships, which are on a par with foundation degrees or above.
In Ashfield, 460 people began intermediate apprenticeships, 370 started advanced ones, and the remaining 100 embarked on competitive higher ones.
Across England, around 290,500 workers began new apprenticeships over the nine months to April, and more than 181,600 successfully finished one during the same period.
However, this was 156,400 fewer than during the same nine month period in the 2016-17 academic year.
The plunging 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.
Critics say the change has caused confusion for employers, and put them off taking on apprentices.
Mrs Milton continued: “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.
“You can find out all about the apprenticeships available near you by visiting the government’s Find an Apprenticeship website – so take a look and consider doing an apprenticeship today.”