SINCE the start of the Gazette’s 100 in 100 campaign, we’ve been talking about the importance of apprenticeships.

But what exactly do apprenticeships deliver and why are they so important?

We have listed some of the latest statistics and facts about the schemes to demonstrate the positive impact they have on our economy.

Here are ten things you probably didn’t know about apprenticeships:

1. Fresh thinking: 96 per cent of employers say the benefits of an apprentice to their company include improved morale, better staff retention and an injection of new ideas.

2. Employability: 86 per cent of young people stay in employment after completion of their apprenticeship, and 67 per cent stay with the same firm they trained with.

3. Increased productivity: 72 per cent of employers say, on average, a person completing an apprenticeship increased business productivity by £214 a week across organisations of all sizes. This is because apprenticeships enable businesses to grow their skills base, leading to increased profit, lower prices, better products and higher wages.

4. Major contributor to UK economy: Apprenticeship completions over the next decade are forecast to contribute £3.4billion a year through productivity gains.

5. Earn well while you learn: Many employers pay more than they have to. The national minimum wage for apprentices is £2.68 an hour – rising to £2.73 on October 1– but the average weekly salary is £170.

6. Business and administration is the most popular apprenticeship: 384,840 online applications were made during 2013 to take up vacancies in this area, followed by children and young people’sworkforce, customer service, IT and vehicle maintenance and repair.

7. Choices galore: There are more than 250 different types of apprenticeships on offer in the UK and around 1,400 vacancies. At Colchester Institute there are more 40 apprenticeship courses you can sign up for and they’re working with 78 employers on multiple vacancies.

8. Fame and fortune beckons: Alexander McQueen was an apprentice tailor in Saville Row and he went on to win British Designer of the Year four times. John Frieda, Jamie Oliver, Sir Alex Ferguson and Eric Clapton were all apprentices too.

9. Apprenticeships aren’t new: They date back to the Middle Ages where apprentices were trained in traditional trades like construction, paper-making and printing.

10. Age is no barrier: You can apply for an apprenticeship at any age providing you’re over 16. You just need to be a resident in England and not taking part in full-time education.