BUSINESSES across Somerset have created 145 apprenticeships and 123 work experience placements since a drive against unemployment, particularly among young people, began in October.

More than 150 employers pledged their support during a 100-day campaign called Get Somerset Working.

The campaign was developed by a partnership of Somerset County Council, colleges, training providers, and the Somerset Employment and Skills Board.

Young people across the county have seen many routes to employment and training closed off to them during a period of recession or very little national economic growth.

Latest county council figures in Somerset suggest that youth unemployment now stands at 4.7%.

An event to celebrate this success was held with the Somerset Chamber of Commerce in Taunton last week.

The county council’s economy chief, David Hall, told the County Gazette: “This news is a great boost for the Somerset economy, and particularly for young people looking to start a career.

“It proves that local businesses are still prepared to invest in their future workforce during tough economic times.

“Opportunities have been created in a variety of sectors including education, leisure and tourism, skilled trades and environmental services.”

Graham Knight, from the Get Somerset Working partnership, said: “We set out to work with 100 Somerset employers that had not employed an apprentice or offered work experience in the past 18 months.

“In just 100 days, 151 employers have pledged support and ended up creating more than 260 opportunities, which is a fantastic effort.

“Research conducted by the National Apprenticeship Service shows 83% of employers that employ apprentices rely on them to provide their future workforce, and for apprentices it is a great way to develop new skills and gain qualifications.”