IT was so successful last year, we’re doing it again in 2012. When it was launched in May 2011, the Worcester News 100 in 100 apprentices campaign had the ambitious target of signing up 100 local companies to take on a total of 100 apprentices in 100 days.

However, it so caught the imagination of the business world that by the time the initiative ended in August, it had secured no less than 214 apprenticeships – more than double its objective – from 100 companies and in the process received praise from politicians, business leaders and the community.

So the Worcester News is once again teaming up with the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) and several key organisations to help find jobs for local youngsters facing record youth unemployment levels.

In January, the youth unemployment rate rose to 20.3 per cent, which is the highest since records began in 1992.

Also backing the scheme is Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce, Worcestershire County Council and Skills for Security.

The group hopes to encourage employers, learning providers and partners to influence the business community to increase the number of apprenticeship vacancies and raise the profile of apprenticeships for individuals.

Worcester News editor Peter John said: “With more than one in five young people unemployed and facing tough times trying to find work, apprenticeships are a key way of tackling this issue by giving school-leavers a start on the work ladder.

“We are delighted that we can do something practical to help tackle the problem with this campaign which was so successful last year.

“We have a special supplement in today’s paper explaining the campaign and after today we’ll bring regular coverage of its progress and celebrate when firms put youngsters into apprenticeship schemes.”

The 100 in 100 campaign will benefit the business community, young people and the local economy by giving school leavers their first step on to the jobs ladder, supporting young people into education and a life-long career and providing tools for businesses to grow their workforce and increase productivity.

Karen Woodward, West Midlands regional apprenticeship director for the NAS, said: “Apprenticeships bring considerable value to employers, individuals and the economy as a whole.

“In an increasingly competitive world, no business can afford not to invest in training and apprenticeships are one of the best and most cost-effective ways for employers to grow their own talent.

“That is why we are driving the 100 in 100 campaign, working alongside partners to ensure that more organisations across all sectors and industries can have the opportunity to enjoy the business benefits that employing apprentices can bring.”

To find out more about the campaign, contact the National Apprenticeship Service on 08000 150600 or visit the website