BUSINESSES are being asked their views on how to boost apprenticeship numbers.

Malvern Hills District Council currently offers grant funding to support businesses to recruit apprentices, promotes success stories, works with schools and businesses and runs awareness campaigns.

The authority has made promoting and creating apprenticeships a key priority and is seen as essential to helping address the skills shortage facing local employers.

But despite these efforts the number of people taking an apprenticeship has fallen in the last five years.

A special task and finish group, made up of Malvern councillors and officers, has now been set-up to look at what more can be done to increase participation in apprenticeships.

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Councillor Daniel Walton, chairman of the new group, said: “Apprenticeships are a great alternative to university.

"They allow you to earn money while gaining a qualification and on the job experience and can benefit those wishing to upskill during their career.

"While businesses are increasingly turning to apprenticeships to fill skills shortages, the number of people participating in them is falling.

“There are a number of reasons for this and we’re keen to hear the public’s views, particularly those of businesses, anyone currently taking an apprenticeship or those who may have considered one and rejected it, to help us identify what more we could be doing.”

People are encouraged to share their views and experiences by completing the survey available at

The deadline for responses is January 28.

We recently reported on Worcestershire Construction Apprentice Academy, a non-profit charity established in 2013 by local building contractor Speller Metcalfe, who wanted to do more to directly support construction apprenticeships.

Woodrose Carpentry Ltd, Ged Bearcroft Developments Ltd, Paul Morton Creations and Matt Kinchin Building Contractors - all Worcestershire based businesses - successfully applied for grant-based funding after they each took on an apprentice from the Heart of Worcestershire College.

As well as providing a £500 grant to each employer, each apprentice has received a toolkit from Travis Perkins, specific to their trade.