A&P Falmouth’s production director Darren Rice

Almost 3,400 people have started an apprenticeship in Cornwall with the latest figures showing that numbers have held steady despite disruption caused by the pandemic.

Latest available figures published by Cornwall Apprenticeships, which is a free service aimed at helping local employers take on apprentices, show that in the 12 months to July 2021 there were 3,390 apprenticeship ‘new starts’ in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. This compares with 3,400 in the previous 12 months, a drop of just ten.

The number of people taking advanced and higher-level apprenticeships increased significantly by 130. And almost half of all people who started an apprenticeship were over 25, in increase of almost 10% year on year.

Health, public services and care remain the most popular professions to start an apprenticeship, followed by retail and commercial enterprise; business, administration and law; and engineering and manufacturing. Although both these latter categories saw a drop on the previous year. Construction, planning and the built environment was also a popular area.

Cathie Kessell, employment and apprenticeships lead at Cornwall Apprenticeships, said: “We’re hugely encouraged to see Cornish employers continuing to take on apprentices despite the impacts of covid, and to see a significant increase in advanced and higher level learning.

“There have been Government incentives available during the pandemic to support employers, which will have helped sustain numbers. But we’re also seeing the age profile of apprentices rise. This could be due in part to a growth in the number of existing staff using apprenticeships to learn new skills, and more adults recognising that they can also start an apprenticeship because there is no upper age limit.”

Cornwall Apprenticeships will be supporting National Apprenticeship Week which runs all next week (Feb 7-13), and is teaming up with the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Skills hub to run an online information session and Q&A at 2pm on February 10 to include a 20-minute presentation followed by a Q&A. To book click here.

A&P Falmouth’s production director, Darren Rice, began his career at the company as an apprentice back in 1987. He knows the value apprentices can bring.

“It’s absolutely essential,” he said. “We need to develop people and keep our abilities alive for future generations, maintain our reputation within the industry and enhance the service that we offer to customers to futureproof the business.”

He says A&P’s apprenticeship scheme is ‘second to none’, offering people the chance to grow through the business.

“I have 13 project managers who report to me and 11 of them did their apprenticeship with the business and now they’re managing complex, high value contracts. The opportunities are really there.”

Cornwall Apprenticeships is a partnership initiative between Cornwall Council, the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, and Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Skills Hub. It is part-funded by the European Social Fund.