Apprenticeships are crucial in driving growth and social mobility. They boost skills across the economy and improve people's earnings and career opportunities nationwide. Since 2010, there have been 13,680 apprenticeship starts in the Rossendale and Darwen constituency, and we want to ensure that this number continues to grow.
The Accrington and Rossendale College offers high-quality apprenticeship training with a particular focus on the construction and automotive sectors. Blackburn College is supporting people to develop the skills and knowledge they need for a rewarding career in a variety of industries.
To continue this growth in starts, the government is increasing its investment in apprenticeships to £2.7 billion by 2024/25, encouraging more employers across the country to recruit new apprentices. The department has introduced flexible training models, such as flexi-job and accelerated apprenticeships, to make apprenticeships more accessible, and has improved the transfer system so that levy-payers can make better use of their funds. We are also supporting employers to access apprenticeships by reducing administrative burdens and cutting by a third the number of steps needed to register to take on an apprentice.
The department recognises the vital role that small to medium-sized employers (SMEs) play in creating apprenticeship opportunities. That is why we removed the limit on the number of apprentices that smaller employers can take on, making it easier for SMEs to grow their businesses with the skilled apprentices they need.
We are also allocating an additional £40 million over the next two years to support degree apprenticeship providers to expand and help more people access this provision, on top of the £8 million investment in 2022/23.
We continue to promote apprenticeships to young people in schools and further education colleges across the country through our Apprenticeship Support and Knowledge programme, and UCAS will be expanding its service to allowing students to search for and apply to apprenticeships alongside degrees.