A dramatic fall in the number of apprenticeships in South Ribble in the last year has come under attack from Labour politicians.
Labour claimed new figures show 180 apprentice training places were lost in the borough during 2014 – a fall of 17 per cent on the previous 12 months.
The news follows concerns expressed nationally about the quality and status of apprenticeships created under the Coalition.
“We should be making apprenticeships a top priority,” said Veronica Bennett, Labour’s parliamentary candidate in South Ribble.
“But these figures show that this Tory-led government are taking us backwards and letting South Ribble down.”
Matthew Tomlinson, leader of the Labour group on South Ribble Council, added: “This news shows that, for many people in our borough, this Tory-led government has been nothing short of a disaster.”
However, the Conservatives disputed Labour’s figures and responded that Department for Education figures show double the number of students are taking up apprenticeships in Preston and South Ribble, since the government expanded the apprenticeship scheme in 2010.
Seema Kennedy, Conservative candidate for South Ribble, said: “Across South Ribble we’ve seen a huge take-up of apprenticeships under the Conservatives – something that failed to happen under Labour.
“Our children need the skills to compete in the modern world, and our apprenticeship programme is a great part of that.”