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Government repositions Apprenticeships in £12m drive

LONDON - Chancellor Gordon Brown launched a mammoth £12m marketing and advertising blitz today as part of a government effort to radically reposition its Modern Apprenticeships for a new generation of young people.

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The initiative, from the Learning and Skills Council, is designed to reach more young people and get employers onboard.

Under the new name "Apprenticeships", the objective of the campaign is to get employers to take another look at apprenticeships as a way of adding value to their business.

The campaign will include advertising, outdoor, direct mail, branding and web activity, and was unveiled today by the chancellor and the education and skills secretary Charles Clarke at Selfridge's department store in central London.

Running with the strapline "Apprenticeships... a great idea", a television campaign through Walsh Trott Chick Smith breaks at 9.15pm tonight on major terrestrial channels. The 40-second spots include a call to action, where businesses can call a contact centre to sign up to the scheme. This is to be backed by outdoor advertising on billboards next week.

Direct marketing activity through Cramm Francis Woolf entails mailings being sent to 70,000 small- to medium-sized companies, including letters from Gordon Brown, who has written to the top 1,000 companies urging them to offer apprenticeships.

A multi-faceted website jointly designed by DNA and Cimex also goes live today, giving information to employers and 16- to 24-year-olds about how to get involved.

Branding and identity work has been undertaken through WPP Group's Enterprise IG. Public relations is being handled by another WPP agency Hill & Knowlton, with digital marketing being handled by DNA and Cimex.

Modern Apprenticeships were first launched 10 years ago and now under "Young Apprenticeships" enable people aged 14 and above to pursue vocational programmes on top of the core national curriculum, spending up to two days a week in the workplace.

Other major changes include a scrapping of the 25-year-old age limit, so that adults of all ages can become involved. Working through Sector Skills Councils, employers will have more input into the design and development of apprenticeships.

Nicky Brunker, director of marketing at the Learning and Skills Council, said: "The new 'Young Apprenticeships' is one of the biggest and exciting education developments in the last 10 years and is designed to ensure that employers are aware of the changes that have been made."

A recent survey by the Learning and Skills Council showed that 44% of organisations that reported skills shortages said they lost business as a result.

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