The launch of the Government's new Get In Go Far advertising campaign for apprenticeships is a very welcome initiative, for both professional and personal reasons.
Growing the numbers of apprenticeships in this country is an issue close to my heart. I remember when hiring staff in my own business, the most important thing I looked for on a CV was experience, not just paper qualifications. Being able to see the knowledge and expertise a young person has gained from learning on the job can really help a business find the right candidate for the role.
It's why I was honoured to be appointed the Apprenticeship Adviser for David Cameron as well as co-chair of the Apprenticeship Delivery Board last year. The Get In Go Far campaign will be key to helping raise awareness of the value of apprenticeships; inspire more young people to consider it as a valid, credible route to getting a great career, and encourage more businesses to hire apprentices.
It also supports the government's commitment to create three million apprenticeship starts by 2020, including a 20 per cent increase in the total number of apprentices from Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, and a 20 per cent increase in degree level apprenticeships. We want to ensure young people get the skills they need and those that employers are looking for.
Apprenticeships are boosting the skills capabilities of individuals in every industry, from nuclear to finance; manufacturing to construction. Through apprenticeships, employers can grow their own talent, and ensure the next generation of professionals have the skills and experience our economy needs.
But where I hope Get In Go Far can really make a difference is in creating a long term cultural shift in perceptions surrounding apprenticeships, motivating all audiences to see them as an expected and highly respected work-based qualification.
Government is certainly in this for the long haul and will be reaching out to youngsters in school as well as those aged up to 24. It is geared up to persuade parents to understand just how valuable an apprenticeship can be for their children, and make sure teachers are aware of the information they need to promote apprenticeships in the classroom. The campaign will also target employers in order to increase the supply of apprenticeships and traineeships.
Apprentices represent an excellent investment for both government and employers, delivering significant benefits for the taxpayer. In the longer term, the Government's campaign will bring together information about traineeships and work experience too, so that young people understand the full range of options and routes into employment that are available to them.
Apprenticeships offer real progression, industry experience and transferable skills - as shown by one in five companies in England having a former apprentice at board level. Our focus is now on boosting higher and degree apprenticeships, to expand pathways to ever higher skills.
Don't get left behind! Apprenticeships will help businesses to grow, prosper and compete, while giving individuals a chance to develop a career in their chosen profession. There has never been a better time to get involved.
Find out more by visiting www.getingofar.gov.uk, or join the #GetInGoFar conversation on Twitter by following @bisgovuk and @apprenticeships.
Nadhim Zahawi is the Conservative MP for Stratford-upon-Avon and Apprenticeship Adviser to David Cameron