Apprentice numbers at all-time high in Rugby

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While it may not be the booming industrial hub of days gone past, Rugby still holds its own as an engineering town.

New figures show 1,020 people started apprenticeships in Rugby last year – a record number. In 2009/10 the figure was just 570, before jumping to 870 in 2010/11.

Richard Whitehouse, a Rugby factory director at engineering firm Alstom where nine apprentices are based, said apprenticeships were as vital as university degrees if Britain’s workforce is to be internally competitive.

“The standard engineering firms like Alstom can mould our apprentices to is extremely high. There has been an issue with a skills gap in engineering in recent years and any news that suggests more people are taking it up is to be welcomed.”

He added: “There’s no question about it that apprentices like ours will become a valuable commodity in their fields.”

Mark Pawsey MP said there had been an increase of 79 per cent compared to the last year of the last Labour government.

“These record levels of apprenticeships are fantastic news for our country, for Rugby, and most of all for the people whose lives are being transformed by the opportunities they offer. We will only succeed as a country when everyone is given the chance to reach their full potential.”

Alstom employ around 700 people in Rugby and recently won the majority of a major contract to overhaul and refurbish a large South African power station.

Other engineering projects at GE Energy in Rugby include updating the electrical systems on-board two of the navy’s giant Royal Fleet Auxiliary refuelling ships and producing electronics and drilling technology for Brazilian oil company Petrobras.

Last year GE energy finished building eight giant motors for the UK’s next generation of aircraft carriers.