FOR most young people university will be a rewarding and worthwhile experience, just as mine was. This is why during my time as an MP I have organised several visits from the three sixth form colleges in my constituency (Okehampton, Crediton and Ashburton) to Oxford University to encourage state school pupils to aim high and not be nervous about applying to the top universities.

But university is not the right option for everyone and I spent two years as a ministerial aide in the Business Department in the early part of David Cameron’s premiership helping to increase the number of young people embarking on apprenticeships. 

Locally in Central Devon, 376 people, on average, began an apprenticeship each year between 2005 and 2010. 

This increased to 685 between 2010 and 2020. I was also vocal about the need for apprenticeship opportunities to be more accessible to women, particularly in typically male dominated professions where just like their male counterparts women have a lot to offer. The gender balance of those starting apprenticeships has changed significantly over the past decade and is now pretty much 50-50.

This week is National Apprenticeship Week 2023 and it gives me another opportunity to champion the value of local apprenticeships. They are an excellent way to gain important skills and qualifications while also earning and when you reach Level 5 and above, lifetime average earnings are higher than those achieved by university graduates. 

In the most recent post-apprenticeship surveys, 99 per cent of apprentices said they gained valuable skills during their apprenticeship and 97 per cent reported being in employment or further education when completing the survey. 

These figures are truly impressive when you factor in the disruption that many will have experienced during the pandemic.

Apprenticeships also benefit the businesses that take them on; 75 per cent of employers say their apprentice has helped improve productivity or quality of service and 98 per cent say their apprentice has brought other benefits to their business.

I have been pleased to support excellent local training providers here in Central Devon (such as the Focus Training Group in Heathfield and Moor Training in Okehampton) and will be catching up with Aimee Worrall, Centre Manager at Moor Training, this week. 

The pandemic has had a painful effect on apprenticeship starts, with numbers in England falling dramatically, and I am eager to find out how local numbers are rebounding.

For more about National Apprenticeship Week 2023 and to search apprenticeship vacancies visit 

Useful information and links for aspiring apprentices and employers thinking about taking on an apprentice can be found at or

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