Election 2015

Election 2015: Cameron welcomes new apprenticeships

David Cameron and apprentice Anthony Stone Image copyright Reuters
Image caption David Cameron was shown around the John Taylor Bell Foundry in Loughborough by apprentice Anthony Stone

Prime Minister David Cameron has welcomed announcements of 16,000 new apprenticeships, saying he wants the qualifications to be "level pegging" with university degrees.

Morrisons says it will train 9,000 apprentices over the next five years; and Premier Inn and Costa Coffee owner Whitbread plan 6,000 by 2020.

There were also commitments from National Grid and Dairy Crest.

The PM promised three million new apprentices under a Tory government.

Mr Cameron, who launched the Costa Coffee apprenticeship scheme, said: "We want apprenticeships to be level-pegging with a university degree giving millions more people the dignity of work and a regular pay packet.

"We've already created 2.2 million apprenticeships since 2010 but a future Conservative government is committed to opening up three million more high quality apprenticeships - to help strengthen our economy and communities and give millions more people financial security."

Labour says it would guarantee apprenticeships for every school leaver in England who "gets the grades" by 2020, while the Lib Dems have been keen to claim a share of the credit for those created in the last Parliament.

Nick Clegg's party says it would offer an extra £1 an hour for the lowest paid apprentices.

Andy Harrison, chief executive of Whitbread, said: "I firmly believe that investing in apprenticeships is essential to Whitbread's future success and to the health of the UK economy, as well as helping the next generation to achieve their full potential."

National Grid is taking on 500 new apprentices and Dairy Crest will take 200, as well as opening a new training academy.

Also on Thursday, Labour said it would guarantee teenagers face-to-face individual careers advice if it forms the next government.

The party's education manifesto also includes a pledge "to protect the entire education budget in real terms".

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