Wales has seen a dramatic rise in the number of people starting an apprenticeship, new figures show.
Government statistics published today reveal that more than 28,000 people started apprenticeships in Wales in 2012/13, compared to 17,900 in 2011/12 — an increase of more than 56 per cent.
At the same time in England, the number of apprenticeship starts fell by 2 per cent, from 520,600 to 510,200.
Meanwhile, the overall figure for work-based learning provision in Wales also increased by 14.5 per cent to more than 61,000 unique learners in 2012/13, higher than in any of the previous five years.
Higher apprenticeships have also seen an unprecedented surge in popularity, with the latest figures showing 2,275 starts in 2012/13, compared to just 280 in 2011/12.
The total number of full-time learners in FE in Wales has seen an increase of 3.8 per cent.
The news comes just a week after labour market statistics showed youth unemployment is falling faster in Wales than it is in the UK as a whole, with a 22.5 per cent reduction in the number of 16-17-year-olds out of work in Wales over the past year compared to just 1.2 per cent in the rest of the UK.
The Welsh deputy minister for skills and technology, Ken Skates, said that the record apprenticeship figures were a “powerful demonstration” of why Wales is bucking the youth unemployment trend.
“Twenty-eight thousand new apprentices in one year is an impressive figure and many of these new learners will continue with their apprenticeship training during well into next year,” said Mr Skates.
“Financial support is in place to ensure they continue with their learning so they can achieve their apprenticeship aspirations."