"I want to highlight that apprenticeships can work for everyone – apprentices, employers, local communities and also for the economy of the country. Apprenticeships are a great route into a job that can lead to so much more. Earning while you are learning, and providing businesses with the skilled people they need to get on and grow. It’s because an apprenticeship is so valuable that we want to both improve the quality and increase the quantity of apprenticeships on offer. That’s what the government’s apprenticeship reforms are all about.

"Over the last year there have been big changes for employers and for those involved in delivering apprenticeships. These changes to how our apprenticeship system works have put quality at its heart - and control squarely in the hands of employers. We established the Institute for Apprenticeships to give employers the power to design and develop new apprenticeships and last April we introduced the apprenticeship levy to help fund apprenticeship training. These are significant changes, and employers are rightly taking the time to plan well so they can adapt. But we want more people to take advantage of the great apprenticeship opportunities around. That’s why I’m thrilled to be a part of this week; I want to increase the awareness and take-up of apprenticeships.

We want to see more apprenticeships but - more importantly – better apprenticeships, in more sectors and covering more roles.

"Employers themselves are designing new apprenticeships to make sure they work for business and meet their needs. Over 220 new apprenticeships standards have been developed, with over 300 in further development, replacing the old frameworks. These standards are based in a broad range of sectors including nuclear, fashion, law, banking and defence. We are working together with businesses to make sure both the apprentice and the employer are getting what they need from the apprenticeship system.

"We also want to make sure it is as easy as possible to get on to an apprenticeship, so everyone regardless of their background or where they come from has the chance to achieve their potential. We recently launched the Diversity Hubs project in five cities around the UK, working together with the National Apprenticeship Service, mayors, local representatives and businesses to promote the take-up of apprenticeships among under-represented groups, including Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people and those from disadvantaged backgrounds. We also set a measure for success for a 20% increase in the proportion of starts by people with learning difficulties or disabilities by 2020.

"Apprenticeships can also be a way for people to re-enter the job market or change jobs, so we have made it easier for part-time workers to undertake apprenticeships, such as those with caring responsibilities, single parents and those returning to work.

"These apprenticeship reforms are the largest government has ever made, but there is still more to do. That’s what this week is all about. I want to continue hearing from businesses and the apprentices themselves about what works for them – and how we can make apprenticeships work better for you.

"Apprenticeships are about learning to do a good job and about fulfilling dreams and aspirations. So take up the opportunity an apprenticeship can offer you!"