Helping young people prepare for their career is a solid investment in their future. That’s why I’m so proud that since 2010, just over 5,000 new apprentices have started in our area, providing young people with hands-on experience and career specific skills.

I want every young person leaving school to view an apprenticeship or going to university in equal merit. Becoming an apprentice is a great route into a first job or to change career. You can get paid while you learn, which means having no student loan and gaining real-life experience.

This week we celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, and I will be writing to local businesses asking them to take on an apprentice. National Apprenticeship Week is an important opportunity to shout about how apprenticeships are working here in Watford. I want to showcase the great work apprentices are doing in a range of sectors, and also encourage even more businesses to consider taking on an apprentice.

I have been working closely with government ministers on incentives to encourage more businesses to take on apprentices and so I’m delighted that the Government will now pay 100 percent of training costs if you have fewer than 50 employees. You can also get £1,000 of government funding for taking on an apprentice, so it really is a win-win. In total, the Government has spent over £60 million on training apprentices and we are well on the way to reaching three million apprenticeship starts nationally. With Watford’s growing business community, I want to see even more businesses reaping the benefits of hiring an apprentice.

- Richard Harrington is Conservative MP for Watford