Note - - Apprenticeships are firmly on the political agenda in the run-up to next spring’s general election. The skills gap and youth unemployment mean work-based training is at the heart of what the political parties are planning. And the devolved powers heading for Greater Manchester will mean our town halls will have control of the region’s £500m skills budget. Education reporter TODD FITZGERALD looks at how modern apprenticeships are becoming more and more important.

Apprenticeships - a good choice for school leavers? Or a last resort for those who can’t get into university?

As employees, apprentices earn a wage and work alongside experienced staff to gain skills on the job - all the while staying in education.

Off the job, they receive training to work towards nationally-recognised qualifications, often at a college. Anyone living in England, aged 16-plus and not in full-time education, can apply to become an apprentice. The myth that apprenticeships are not for ‘top’ students is one that schools and colleges are increasingly keen to dispel. They’re simply an alternative route to employment....

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- - Volume: 2 - WEEK: 46 Date: 11/11/2014 12:57:08 PM -