MORE than 700 apprenticeships have been created for young people in the county since this year’s Grow Somerset Talent scheme began, smashing the previous record of 515 set in 2010.

The 100-day campaign to maximise apprentice recruitment in Somerset is targeted at those between the ages of 16 and 24 and is supported by Somerset County Council, the National Apprenticeship Service and a partnership of colleges and training providers, including Taunton’s Richard Huish College, which set up its own business school.

One success story involves apprentice Chris Smith, who joined the team at Andika Accountancy Services in Taunton.

Director Penny Farrar said: “Chris is the second apprentice from the Richard Huish Business School to join our bookkeeping team since we moved to Equity House.

“The standard of the course and the support from the college has made taking on an apprentice a very good option to gain quality qualified staff.”

College principal Dr Peter Avery added: “Since launching our business school to reflect the wide range of vocational and professional courses on offer, our commitment to expanding our apprenticeship offer is going from strength to strength.

“Being part of the ‘Grow Somerset Talent’ initiative has really helped us to focus on matching the skills and career aspirations of young people to the needs and requirements of employers in the local business community.

“However, recruiting new apprentices is only one element of our success. We are exceptionally proud of our reputation as a quality provider of apprenticeship training and this is supported by the success rates and progression of our apprentices once they have achieved their learning goals.”

Last year, 84% of the school’s apprentices gained full employment after their training.

Others progressed onto higher education, either on Higher Apprenticeship programmes in Business Administration or onto a Foundation Degree.