A Surrey County Council drive to create apprenticeships has given more than 1,500 young people a leg up on the career ladder.
A target to fill 500 apprentice roles in the last year alone has been beaten two months early, with 562 places taken up in just 10 months.
The news was confirmed as National Apprenticeship Week got underway to highlight the positive impact of apprenticeships on individuals, organisations and the economy.
Surrey County Council leader David Hodge launched a cash incentive scheme in 2012 which gave employers £750 for each apprentice aged under 19 they took on in addition to any national funding.
Major Surrey employers have taken part including Ann Summers, McLaren Racing and Berkeley Homes as well as many smaller businesses.
With 562 apprentices recruited between April 2014 and February, the total number of roles filled since the scheme was launched now exceeds 1,500.
The majority of these apprentices were hired through the cash incentive scheme, with the rest taken on by the county council itself and its contractors.
The apprenticeship drive is among measures being taken by the council to stimulate economic growth and support Surrey’s business community.
Mr Hodge said: ‘Supporting young people to participate in education, training or employment is vital to Surrey’s economic growth so by creating apprenticeships we are investing in the county’s future prosperity.
‘Reaching this milestone of helping 1,500 young people get a leg on the career ladder is fantastic news.
‘Apprenticeships put young people on the path to a successful career, give businesses the skilled workforce they need to thrive and help the economy grow, which is why this scheme has been a key focus of ours over the past three years.’