Vince Cable
Business Secretary Vince Cable pledged to double the number of apprenticeshipsReuters

Business Secretary Vince Cable has pledged to double the number of apprenticeships available to young people if the Liberal Democrats return to the cabinet after the general election.

In a bid to make the UK "the apprentice powerhouse of Europe", 360,000 employers would offer on-the-job training to young people and the move would include incentives such as exemption from National Insurance and hundreds of thousands of apprenticeship grants for employers.

"The world is changing at an accelerated rate and we need to equip our young people with the skills they need for the future, to ensure they can compete in a global marketplace, in ever- changing technologies and the digital economy," Cable said.

"That is why the Liberal Democrats will double the number of employers providing apprenticeships over the next five years and create more apprenticeship starts per year than Germany.

"To achieve these objectives requires significant investment in skills by both government and the private sector. As we grow our economy, the Liberal Democrats believe we must enhance adult skills training and our further education colleges."

Popular pledge

The Conservatives and Labour have already pledged to increase the number of apprenticeships. The Prime Minister promised 3 million new apprenticeships under a Tory government, in addition to the 2.2 million apprenticeships created since 2010.

"We want apprenticeships to be level-pegging with a university degree giving millions more people the dignity of work and a regular pay packet.

"We've already created 2.2 million apprenticeships since 2010 but a future Conservative government is committed to opening up three million more high quality apprenticeships – to help strengthen our economy and communities and give millions more people financial security," Cameron said.

Meanwhile Labour has said that by 2020, all school leavers would be guaranteed an apprenticeship should they "get the grades".