Royal support for scheme to create more apprenticeships

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THE Duke of York will visit the Leeds City Region next month to encourage more small businesses to recruit apprentices.

Prince Andrew will meet apprentices, students, small businesses, civic leaders and private sector business representatives from Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) during a one-day tour in Leeds on March 4.

The Duke of York will launch the Leeds City Region Apprenticeship Challenge, which aims to increase the number of SMEs offering apprenticeships in the region by 1,000 during the next financial year.

Roger Marsh, chair of Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, said: “We welcome the Duke of York’s visit to the region to highlight the importance of investing time and resources into our young people and showcase the fantastic apprentice opportunities our region boasts.

“This visit will kick-start Apprenticeship Week 2014 and help businesses in the region understand the benefits an apprentice can bring to their workforce whilst at the same time giving a young person a step up on to the career ladder.”

Businesses will be asked to pledge their support to take on an apprentice at a conference at the Royal Armouries where the Duke of York will address approximately 200 SMEs invited from across Leeds City Region.

Guests will also find out about the free advice available from the Leeds City Region apprenticeship hubs which have recently launched across 10 local authority areas to make it easier for SMEs to recruit apprentices.

The royal visit coincides with National Apprenticeship Week from March 3 to 7.

Ian Billyard, principal of Leeds College of Building, said: “Both businesses and the economy benefit greatly from taking on apprentices and, as the only specialist construction college in the UK, we work with hundreds of SMEs both in the region and across the country to train over 900 apprentices every year.

“Apprenticeships are the ideal way to deliver the skills for the future, and we welcome any initiative that highlights the plethora of benefits apprenticeships provide.”