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5 March 2017, 10:05
Up to 27,000 young people will benefit from apprenticeship employment opportunities this year, according to the Scottish Government.
The figure is up by 1,000 on last year's target of 26,000 apprenticeship starts.
The statistics come ahead of Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2017, which begins on March 6 and encourages employers to take on young people and consider a work-based learning route into employment.
They include new foundation apprenticeships where young people can start training at school, and graduate level apprenticeships where employees can use work-based learning opportunities at degree level.
Employability and Training Minister Jamie Hepburn said he believes more apprenticeship programmes will provide the chance for a record number of young people to work, learn and earn.
He said: ''Apprenticeships support young people into sustainable careers, reduce youth unemployment and help meet Scotland's skill requirements.
''Along with the rest of my colleagues, I am looking forward to seeing first-hand the number and the breadth of programmes supported by the Scottish Government over the course of this week.
''Since this Government came into office in 2007, over 200,000 modern apprenticeship starts have been delivered. Scotland currently has the second lowest youth unemployment in Europe and our world-class work-based learning system is a factor in this.
''By significantly boosting the number of apprentice places on offer, we are reinforcing our commitment to provide accessible education opportunities which will support our learners and the wider economy.
''I would encourage more employers, both large and small, to take advantage of the opportunities presented by employing modern apprentices, and talk to Skills Development Scotland to find out more.''
Damien Yeates, chief executive of Skills Development Scotland, which organises Scottish Apprenticeship Week, wants businesses and individuals to know that apprenticeships are changing.
He said: ''Apprenticeships are designed by employers for employers and provide the talent they want for the growth they need to develop their workforce.
''Business and industry continue to invest in apprenticeships, even in challenging economic times, which is a testament to the value they see in work based learning.''