This month, the 10th annual National Apprentice Week will highlight the positive impact that apprenticeships have on individuals, businesses and the economy.

And with more young people than ever opting to undertake advanced apprenticeships, the hands-on approach to professional careers is proving a great success. Statistics clearly show that the number of young people starting apprenticeships rather than going into full-time further education is on the rise. For many the benefits of earning while they learn is proving more attractive than the prospect of leaving university with a large debt.

Department of Education (DfE) figures show that 2.4 million apprenticeships were started by young people in England during the last parliament, with 2015/16 showing the highest number of applications to start apprenticeships on record.

Roisin Sweeney, 20, began her apprenticeship with the Burscough-based telephone answering service Face for Business ( in June 2014. Last year her achievements were recognised when she received an 'Advanced Apprentice of the Year' commendation from the ‘Let's Talk Apprenticeship’ awards.

And she told QLocal how the scheme’s provided a fantastic opportunity to develop her career!

“There were lots of options when I started, and in the early stages I experienced every single role within the company.

“I found it was the accounts role that I really enjoyed, and the company has been very supportive in helping me develop while I do an accountancy course at college.”

Roisin attends college one day a week and is completing an AAT Certificate in Accounting. The fully funded AAT accountancy apprenticeship scheme enables apprentices to gain a recognised accountancy qualification, whilst developing hands-on skills and experience in the working environment. The qualification also provides a pathway to chartered accountancy qualifications or credits towards future university courses.

Many apprentices find they can progress faster than graduates because of the working experience they have gained, and Roisin says the whole process has been extremely beneficial: "I’ve developed both professional and interpersonal skills through on the job training, whilst also growing within the role by applying what I’ve learned on my course. That’s enabled me to take on new responsibilities and implement new processes. It’s also great that I’m getting paid whilst learning."

Face for Business were also recognised at the 2016 ‘Let's Talk Apprenticeship’ awards, winning the SME Apprentice Employer of the Year award.

Company director Andy MacGregor is a huge fan of the schemes, saying: “We’re really seeing the benefits of apprenticeships to the business. It offers us a great way to recruit and train people that are keen to develop professional careers at an early age.

“There’s obvious cost benefits to the business, but more importantly our apprentices have helped us tackle skill shortages in the business.

“We’re able to let new starters try a range of roles so that they can find a niche that they enjoy before they start training in a specialist skill.”

The theme for National Apprenticeship Week 2017 is ‘ladder of opportunity’, with a focus on how schemes enable participants to move from traineeships through to higher and Degree apprenticeships. A DfE survey in 2016 revealed that 75 per cent of employers believe apprenticeships boost their productivity and help improve the quality of their product or service.

With up to 3 million new apprenticeships across 170 industry sectors predicted to start in 2017, it’s clear to see the long-term benefits to individuals, businesses and the economy.