Cameron pledges £25m fund for 10,000 advanced apprenticeships

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David Cameron has announced a £25 million fund to support up to 10,000 advanced apprenticeships during a site visit to Jaguar Land Rover in the Midlands.

Manufacturers will be invited to tender for funding to help them take on apprentices up to degree equivalent level. The Higher Apprenticeships Fund aims to address a shortage of skilled workers in advanced manufacturing, IT and engineering, the government said. Cameron said: "I am determined that this government should be the most pro-business there has been, with one purpose and one goal: creating jobs and growth." The PM added: "It is therefore crucial that we build up the skills in this country that our businesses need and that will fuel long term growth. That is why despite some difficult decisions on spending we are increasing the number of apprenticeships to record levels." However, it remains unclear how far the funding will go towards filling a severe shortfall in manufacturing apprenticeships. The industry will need to double the number of apprenticeships to 16,000 within 5 years to maintain growth prospects according to Semta figures. Currently the sector is producing only half of 13,700 new entrants needed, Semta estimates. The new funding will be delivered via the National Apprenticeship Service with new apprenticeships starting from October 2011. Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "As I work with the business community to rebalance and grow the economy, apprenticeships will increasingly deliver not just basic training, but also the high level, high tech skills that drive growth. The Higher Apprenticeships Fund is a crucial step towards placing vocational learning on a par with academic study."