THE resurrection of apprenticeships as the best form of practical training was hailed at an event in Winchester.

Winchester MP Steve Brine spoke at a business breakfast at the Basepoint Centre in Winnall yesterday.

The event was co-sponsored by the Daily Echo which has been running a successful campaign this year to raise the profile and image of apprenticeships.

Mr Brine lamented that practical learning has become viewed as second best compared to academic study.

But he said too many students were emerging with useless qualifications, citing the example of the recent glut of forensic science graduates in the wake of the popular CSI franchise on television.

He added: “I refuse to believe that Britain is doomed to dwindle into a race of pseudo-celebrities and merchant bankers. On the contrary, we believe that it is British manufacturing, and the practical skills that underpin it, that must lead us into renewed economic growth.

“We must intensify our efforts to re-establish apprenticeships as the primary form of practical training.”

The Government wants to see 75,000 more apprentices which would push the figure to record levels of around 350,000.

More than 50 Business people gathered to hear about Apprentices for Business, in which Sparsholt College is working with the London Apprenticeship Company to offer a service in a pilot project based in the Winnall trading estates.

Apprentices for Business acts as a kind of employment agency that marry companies with suitable young people. Apprenticeships are not just in the traditional craft sectors but also in IT, creative industries and financial services.

The gathering heard also from Bianca Jackson, a human resources assistant at Sparsholt College who started there as an apprentice.

She said: “I have learnt so much. It has been a great opportunity. This is something I enjoy. It is different every day and there are always new challenges.”

Ian Smith, of the National Apprenticeship Service, said for every £1 the Government invests in apprenticeships it gets a return of £40.