Dorset County Council is set to take on six new apprentices by the end of the year as part of its drive to increase the scheme.

Already this year, 37 apprentices started with the council in a variety of roles, including jobs in highway, libraries, transport planning, administration and countryside services.

This is a 76 per cent increase in the number of apprentices working their way towards national qualifications compared to 2016, and the council expect the number to increase further over the next year as more vacancies are being turned into apprenticeships and staff are given opportunities to develop new skills.

The Governments vision is to increase the quality and quantity of apprenticeships in England to three million by 2020, and has allocated 2.5bn to achieve the goal.

The money will be spent on the training required for apprentices and should encourage employers to take on more people in jobs working towards recognised qualifications.

Deborah Croney, Cabinet member for economy, education, learning and skills, said: "Nationally there has been a sharp decline in the number of apprentices, but the council is bucking the trend and using changes introduced by the Government through the apprenticeship levy to maximise jobs and training opportunities.

“Our apprenticeship scheme offers people the opportunity to learn new skills and gain valuable work experience that they need for the future.

“Not only does it offer a clear career path to young people, but it also gives staff and adults returning to work an opportunity to change career, or progress with additional training in their chosen field.

“Our workforce is our greatest asset, and we are committed to invest and create more opportunities both for our existing staff and new people to train on the job.

“We hope that others will look at what is happening in Dorset as a model for how to help people find new opportunities and skills.”