A record number of apprenticeships were taken up in Wiltshire this year with 6,440 people signing up for the schemes smashing the original campaign target of 5,600.
The provisional figures from the Skills Funding Agency place Wiltshire second in the country for the largest growth in apprenticeships, after an almost 20 percent increase (19.5 percent) for the academic year 2015/16.
Wiltshire Council led a campaign to boost awareness of apprenticeships which was launched in September 2015 in partnership with apprenticeship providers across the county including the Gloucestershire & Wiltshire Training Provider Network and the National Apprenticeship Service.
The campaign encouraged businesses to sign up and take on an apprentice and young people to consider the value of apprenticeships, particularly focussing on encouraging learners to aim for advanced and higher apprenticeships.
Fleur de Rhe-Philipe, cabinet member with responsibility for economic development said: "I'm really pleased that young people are seeing the benefits of taking up an apprenticeship and employers are embracing the opportunity to help young people learn skills in the workplace. I'm delighted that the latest figures show Wiltshire is leading the way."
Chief executive of Selwood Housing and Chair of the Wiltshire Education, Employment and Skills Board (EESB) Barry Hughes said: "This is fantastic news for Wiltshire and a great testament to the campaign and hard work of all partners in engaging businesses and young people and delivering apprenticeships over the past year."
The apprenticeship campaign is ongoing and it is hoped that the upward trend will continue as more businesses take on apprentices and more schools make young people and their parents aware that today's apprenticeships are a viable alternative to university education and in some cases bring greater benefits in the long term.
Wiltshire Council currently has 31 apprentices employed in a range of areas including customer service, business administration, health and social care, management, residential childcare and team leading.
Wiltshire Council apprentice Kieran Jenkins, who is training to become a bridge engineer with the highways structures team, said: "Working with Wiltshire Council I have learnt new skills and the confidence to achieve my goals. Experience is a major impact when applying for careers."
Hannah Derrick, former apprentice at Selwood Housing said: "My apprenticeship not only taught me job skills such as dealing with customer issues and coaching and advising my peers, it also taught me personal skills. I feel a lot more confident in my own abilities and extremely motivated to pursue my career in housing."
For more information about apprenticeships go to http://www.workwiltshire.co.uk/help/apprenticeships/