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Key Government strategy in decline as apprenticeships fall

Figures released by the Department of Business show that the number of people starting Government-backed apprenticeship schemes fell by almost 70,000 last year. Some 440,000 people began apprenticeships in the year to April - down from 510,000 the year before. The number of 19 to 24-year-olds starting an apprenticeship fell by more than 6,000 - despite generous incentives to employers to take part. For example, SMEs can get grants of £1,500 for each apprentice they take on. Separate Government research, also published just before the Parliamentary recess, found that 15% of apprentices are paid below the national minimum wage and that 93% of those aged 25 or older already worked for their employer before starting their apprenticeship.

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