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In a period where apprenticeships starts have fallen nationally, Exeter has bucked the national trend to sit at the top of the league table of cities.

The report, produced by the Centre for Cities, looked at the looked at trends in apprenticeship provision across the country. There has been a 26% reduction in starts since 2016 and in some cases, cities had seen starts halve.

In contrast, Exeter was only one of seven cities that saw a growth in starts.

Exeter was awarded the prestigious recognition at an event at Exeter Guildhall, attended by the Lord Mayor Councillor Peter Holland, council leaders, training providers and apprentices.

Also present were representatives from over 30 key businesses from across the city including Exeter Chiefs, Rural Payments Agency, University of Exeter and Pennon Group.

Exeter City Council has 21 apprentices in a wide variety of roles and studying for a wide variety of qualifications.

Council Leader Phil Bialyk said: “We are very proud that Exeter has been presented with ‘City of Apprenticeships’ status by City and Guilds. This is a real testament to the hard work of Exeter College and our training providers to ensure that the apprenticeships offer is high quality and relevant.

“Apprenticeships offer great opportunities for our young people to grow and develop in to rewarding careers, and for our existing workforce to continue to develop their skills and knowledge.”

Elena Magrini Senior Analyst at Centre for Cities, said: “Exeter now has the highest rate of Apprenticeship starts, this is almost ten times higher than the poorer performing cities we studied. The city offers over 150 different Apprenticeships; they are providing a ladder of opportunity for young people and those already in work.”

She added: “It’s essential that the local council, employers and providers work together to identify needs and opportunities in the city. Exeter has achieved this.”

On learning of the exceptional performance by Exeter, City & Guilds wanted to recognize the work done by the employers and providers of training in achieving its number one ranking.

Anna Sheard of the awarding body organisation, said: “City & Guilds group are delighted to join Exeter in celebrating their tremendous work and commitment to enabling high quality Apprenticeships. We look forward to working together for many years to come.”