Apprenticeships deliver work for young people and adults, giving apprentices the chance to earn while they learn in a real job, gaining a real qualification and a real future. An increasing number of companies are offering Apprenticeships because they can help businesses grow by developing a motivated, skilled and highly qualified workforce.

Nearly every employer that takes on an apprentice reports benefits to their business, and research shows that the average Apprenticeship completer increases business productivity by £214 per week, with these gains including increased profits.

Apprenticeships are available at Intermediate, Advanced and Higher (degree and masters) levels. Higher Apprenticeships were introduced to provide the advanced skills most critical for the sector and career development. They now include Higher Apprenticeships in Advanced Manufacturing Engineering, IT, Life Sciences and Environmental Technologies.

Apprenticeships are available in 170 industries and over 1,500 job roles, and in 2011/12 over half a million people started an Apprenticeship. This included 59,480 Apprenticeship starts in Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies.

If a business employs up to 1,000 employees and hasn’t recruited an apprentice in the last year, they may be eligible for a £1,500 grant to help cover the cost of starting a new apprentice aged 16 to 24 years old.

Last month saw the UK’s most talented apprentices, employees and learners from a host of industries come together to compete at The Skills Show, held at the NEC in Birmingham.

More than 700 battled it out in 70 WorldSkills UK competitions. STEM industries were well represented, with apprentices competing in competitions ranging from Aeronautical Engineering, Forensic Science and Mobile Robotics to be named the Best In The UK in their chosen skill.

Visitors to the event not only got to see apprentices in action, but also had the chance to have a go at a wide variety of work-based skills, receive impartial advice from careers professionals and speak to a range of employers, colleges and training providers. Events like The Skills Show are a great way to inspire and engage more young people in careers in STEM industries.