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.
Apprenticeships mean putting true investment into an individual and then reaping the rewards of the contribution that they make. Businesses have the ability to shape an employee into a particular role, meaning that their company benefits in the areas where they need to most. We therefore urge small businesses to consider what role they can play within their organisations, as well as policy-makers to continue to smooth the pathway for companies bringing more apprentices into the system.
It is widely documented that we are making great strides to reduce long-term youth unemployment, but the success story we don't hear talked about so much is that there are now more young people than ever in education and training. That's more young people than ever getting the chance to earn a good living or gain the skills they need to succeed, no matter what their background - which is important for them and important for our country.
After recent years during in which budget announcements have seen some fairly brutal cuts take their toll on Further Education, it was something of a relief for the sector to emerge from Mr Osborne's speech to Parliament last week relatively unscathed on this occasion.
Last week's National Apprenticeship Week was full of discussion. We heard about the productivity gains of hiring apprentices, and concerns around the gender divide. We celebrated the amazing things apprentices have achieved, and heard from business leaders who are pledging to create more apprenticeships.
The piercing gazes and fierce cross examinations of Claude, Karen and Lord Sugar are for many, what springs to mind when you talk about apprentices, but with the government committed to 3 million apprenticeship starts over the next five years, there is far more relevance to students and captains of business than first meets the eye.
Young people and employment were back on the agenda this National Apprenticeship Week. It's part of the Government's plan to make the apprenticeship status more desirable and valued as real training for real jobs, and not a cheap labour programme or a low skilled job creation scheme.
When I was at college, like a lot of people, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I had always performed well at school; I was thrilled to achieve an A and two B grades in my A levels and I loved studying History, Business Studies and ICT. But what next?
Changes to the way people think will be needed to close the apprenticeship gender gap for women; we still need to adjust the mind-set which says that certain careers and sectors are for one gender or another, and we need to ensure that young women know enough about potential careers and outcomes while they are able to make those important decisions about their futures. If we can do this, perhaps during next year's National Apprenticeship Week we could be celebrating that gender gap closing.
At the start of National Apprenticeship Week, here's an A-List of people who have made the journey from being an apprentice to being the boss. Celebr...
What better time to celebrate careers in engineering, and the often unsung contribution engineers and technicians make to societies all over the world? There really is no better time to make a unique contribution of your own.
I remember it well. The same routine many young people go through. The days spent wondering around university campus after campus deciding where my next chapter was to be held. The hours dedicated to filling in my UCAS form. The agony of pouring over my Personal Statement, as if my entire future depended on those few hundred words. At the time, I thought it did.
Politicians from all parties are in agreement on the importance of the UK becoming more socially mobile. People should have the same chances to develop and prosper regardless of the circumstances of their birth.
January is traditionally a time of change, a time when we take stock and assess future ambitions. For many students at colleges and sixth forms across Britain, it's also time to make an important decision about their future - where and what to study for a degree. Fewer things could be more important...
It's a system that's worked since the dawn of time; the master craftsman takes on a young protégé and - through practical experience - teaches them the tricks of the trade until they're proficient enough to start trading alone. Today it's known as an apprenticeship, and they're as vital now as they ever were.
I have always been a huge supporter of the government's push towards apprenticeships. Over a period of 13 years, the previous Labour government completely neglected to take advantage of the potential of apprenticeships. With that in mind, I was pleased to see David Cameron and George Osborne's support for learning whilst you work when they first came to power in 2010.