Employers are being urged to follow the example of BT and Jaguar Land Rover in creating a new generation of skilled workers through apprenticeship schemes.

The call was made at the start of National Apprenticeship Week, where business secretary Vince Cable and skills minister John Hayes underlined the UK government’s commitment to increase the budget for apprenticeships to more than £1.4bn in 2011–12.

British Airways’ engineering apprenticeship scheme will see 120 students join the UK flag carrier, while BT is offering 250 places across the group and Jaguar Land Rover is set to create 1,200 apprenticeship places. BAE Systems has also announced that it will be recruiting 290 apprentices for its UK business in 2011.

Calling on firms to follow the lead of these employers, Cable said that the government wanted to work with businesses to deliver 100,000 more apprentices by 2014.

He added that investment in training the next generation of highly skilled workers would be key to sustainable economic growth and called for an end to outdated values that have seen vocational learning branded a ’poor relation’ to academic study.

‘Apprenticeships are a first-class way to start a career,’ said Cable. ‘That is why my department has pledged to work to create some 75,000 additional adult places.’

Prime minister David Cameron added: ‘With hundreds of events around the country taking place, Apprenticeship Week is a great opportunity for more businesses, young people and potential apprentices to get involved and benefit from all that apprenticeships bring.’