More than 28,000 people in Scotland started apprenticeships last year, including nearly 1000 in Falkirk district, as the number of apprentices benefiting from work-based learning increased for the eighth year in a row.

The latest figures from Skills Development Scotland show 972 people started a Modern Apprenticeship in the Falkirk Council area between April 2018 and March this year, while 848 achieved their apprenticeship qualifications. Nearly two-thirds of the new local intake was made up by 16- to 24-year-olds.

Across Scotland, four out of 10 Modern Apprenticeship starts were in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) roles. Childcare-related positions increased by almost a fifth, ahead of the Scottish Government doubling entitlement to early learning and childcare to 1140 hours a year from August 2020.

People with a physical impairment, health condition or learning difficulty made up 14.1% of the new intake nationally – up from 11.3% in 2017-18 – reflecting Skills Development Scotland’s commitment to equality of opportunity in Modern Apprenticeships.

Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson said: “Having had the chance to visit many local apprenticeship schemes over the years, I’m encouraged to see that people in Falkirk district continue to make the most of the excellent and diverse training opportunities on offer.

“Apprenticeships play an important part in creating the skilled workforce Scotland needs, so it’s good to see that the Scottish Government remains firmly on course to meet our target of 30,000 new apprentice starts by 2020-21, which will be double the number when we took office.”