The number of businesses taking on apprentices in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly increased by more than ten per cent last year, with 3,750 new starts.

The latest available figures show there were 360 more new starts in the year to July 2022 compared with the year previously.

The number of apprentices being taken on now exceeds pre-pandemic levels.

This week is National Apprenticeships Week (February 6 to 12), bringing together businesses and apprentices across the country to shine a light on the impact apprenticeships make to individuals, businesses and the wider economy.

Cathie Kessell, employment and apprenticeship officer at Cornwall Council and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “We’re delighted to see a growth of 360 apprenticeship starts across all age groups and levels in Cornwall and Scilly, which is a 10.6 per cent increase on the year before compared with an 8.6 per cent increase nationally.

“Employers are clearly seeing the benefits of taking on an apprentice especially at a time when recruitment has been an issue for many.

“Apprentices can be any age above 16 and can be new or existing employees, so it’s a great way to upskill the workforce and in most cases 95 per cent of training costs are met by the Government.”

Cathie said 20 per cent of the new starts were higher level apprenticeships, which can be degree level or equivalent, with numbers continuing to rise.

Nationally, under 19s accounted for 22.2 per cent of starts but in Cornwall and Scilly it was 26.9 per cent, which means a higher proportion of young people are choosing to start their careers in Cornwall with an apprenticeship.

One Cornish business that has seen the value of apprenticeships is fashion and retail brand Seasalt Cornwall.

A year ago the business took on Sam Lilley as an early careers and outreach advisor to help focus on apprenticeships and now has more apprentices than ever before, with 11 working across a range of jobs.

Sam said: “My message for companies who are considering taking on apprentices in the future would be to 100 per cent do it.

“Not only are you helping to drive social mobility within Cornwall but you’re also helping us develop a really strong workforce within Cornwall, a motivated workforce, and also bridging those skills gaps.”

One of Seasalt’s apprentices is Helen Couser, who works in the learning and development team to help organise training for the business.

Helen believes her apprenticeship has been a great opportunity and encourages others to consider it for themselves.

She said: “It’s a really good way to get experience and kick-start your career.”

Businesses wanting to find out more about employing an apprentice can contact Cornwall Apprenticeships, a partnership between Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Growth and Skills Hub, Cornwall Council’s Economic Growth Service, and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP, part-funded by the European Social Fund.

A dedicated website includes a wealth of information, advice and support for employers and individuals, including case studies from local businesses already working with apprentices.

The employer section includes a roadmap to taking on an apprentice, plus information on costings, a comprehensive employers’ toolkit and the benefits to their business, as well as how to get further impartial support from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Growth and Skills Hub.