** **His Royal Highness The Duke of York will officially launch the Leeds City Region Apprenticeship Challenge on Tuesday March 4th 2014 to encourage more small businesses to recruit apprentices, as part of wider moves to boost young people's skills and kickstart economic growth.
He will meet apprentices and students at Leeds College of Building and Leeds City College's Printworks Campus and will also address 200 businesses at a conference at the Royal Armouries.
His visit coincides with National Apprenticeship Week which runs from March 3rd to 7th.
British defence giant BAE Systems is to recruit 71 apprentices at its sites in Yorkshire as part of a record intake of trainees in 2014.
The firm's taking on 17 youngsters at its military aircraft design and production site in Brough, East Yorkshire, and a further 48 at the aircraft maintenance training academy in Doncaster. Six posts are also available at the company's Leeds office to work on developing cyber security software.
It's part of the company's plan to take on 568 apprentices to build the next generation of nuclear submarines, military aircraft and ships.
The Government-backed scheme will take on 181 more people than last year across its 16 sites as the company races to meet what it calls "the largest workload for two decades".
Positions start in September 2014 and last 42 months, with an average salary of around £14,000 and a guaranteed job at the end.
The demand for apprenticeship places is expected to be at all time high as many students turn to practical qualifications over university degrees following yesterday's A-Level results.
There are over ten thousand apprenticeship places in our region this year. More than half (54%) of young people in England want to do an Apprenticeship if one is available and figures from youth website Not Going To Uni have shown 71% of employers would recommend young people do an Apprenticeship.
The Federation of Small Businesses has accused the Government of failing youngsters who want to take up an apprenticeship. The organisation, which represents more than 15,000 firms across the region, says too much Government money is being channelled away from where it is needed most.
New figures show that 2500 people in Bradford have taken up apprenticeships since August 2011. This comes on top of record numbers of apprentices in the area last year: 4620 were on an apprenticeship in 2010/11, an increase of 70% on the previous year.