WORCESTERSHIRE County Council is encouraging students to consider apprenticeships as their next step in education.

As university applications open, the authority says there are many choices to make such as which university or college, and which subject and where to live. However, the council says the alternative of an apprenticeship offers the opportunity of earning while learning.

In Worcestershire there are more than 10,000 apprentices who work in a variety of companies and industries such as engineering, public sector, manufacturing and agri-tech.

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Among the apprentices are Tom Everard who was accepted for a place at university but decided to defer for a year.

The teenager used the Worcestershire Apprenticeships website to see what local apprenticeship opportunities might be available to him.

He was taken on for an apprenticeship at Bransford Webbs Plant Nursery to complete his Level 2 in Horticulture and went on to win the Midlands Regional Growers Apprenticeship of the Year award.

“I’m so grateful for the opportunities that the apprenticeship has given me," he said.

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Councillor Marcus Hart, Worcestershire County Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for education and skills, said: “Apprenticeships are a great way of furthering your education and adding to your skill set.

"They are also fantastic for on the job experience, which can prove crucial later on your career.

"I’m really proud of the number of opportunities we have been able to offer young people in Worcestershire and the confidence it has given many of them to progress.”