THE NUMBER of people starting apprenticeships in East Lancashire has more than doubled in the past four years.

Last year 6,900 people started apprenticeships in the area, compared to 3,160 in 2008/09, according to figures from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

In Blackburn and Hyndburn 1,270 apprenticeships were created last year, 1,210 in Rossendale and Darwen, 1,030 in the Ribble Valley and 970 in Pendle.

Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry helped get over 200 people into apprenticeships in his constituency earlier this year through a campaign he championed.

He said: “Apprenticeships are right at the heart of the kind of economy we want to build where more young people have the chance to learn a proper trade.

“I was delighted to be able to help over 200 people get the first steps in to a career earlier this year.” In Burnley aerospace giant Aircelle held a Work Inspiration event earlier this year, which was aimed at showing local youngsters the opportunities that exist to stay in the area and build a career working for local firms.

In Burnley 1,150 people started in apprentice roles last year. The town’s MP Gordon Birtwistle said: “Liberal Democrats are determined to tackle youth unemployment and get our economy back on track.

“We need to rebalance the economy away from the speculators gambling with other people’s money in the City of London.

“For us to be successful, people need the skills and experience to take advantage of new jobs being created in our area. Apprenticeships are a huge part of that.

“Apprenticeships make companies more productive and give young people the experience and skills they need.

“The record rise in learners taking them up last year is great news for Burnley and the economy as a whole.”