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From left, Ray Olds, CEO of Cambridge Online, Harry Humphries, Jim Paice, David Crabb, Stewart Coulter and IT

manager John PritchardThe sky’s the limit for Cambridgeshire apprenticeship schemes, according to a local MP.

Jim Paice was speaking at Cambridge Online in Cambridge Science Park on Friday as part of a campaign by the News and Cambridge Regional College to get 100 apprentices employed in 100 days.

The IT company has now taken on its third apprentice in three years, taking the running total for the scheme to 48 with 62 days still to go.

Mr Paice, MP for south-east Cambridgeshire, said: “We have become obsessed with university being the be all and end all for our young people.

“But there are other ways of achieving just as much personal and skill development – and apprenticeship schemes are now generating more interest.

“They provide opportunities for career growth and aspirations in young people, and for the concept of apprenticeship schemes, the sky is the limit.”

Harry Humphries, of East Street, St Neots, has been employed at Cambridge Online since June and is now paid a salary.

The 20-year-old said: “I was at Cambridge Regional College for two years before hearing about this opportunity.

“Within 10 months of being here I have learned much more than I did in two years at college.

“It is much more practical – when I was at college I was doing theory but it was hard to understand until you can go in there and actually learn.”

Meanwhile, 18-year-old Stewart Coulter, from Norfolk Road, St Ives, is being trained in support and troubleshooting. He started last Monday.

Stewart said: “I went to university in Swansea in September but left in January because the whole experience was not for me.

“I looked for apprenticeships because you can learn at the same time as you have a job and get the experience of being in a workplace.”

Cambridge Online’s managing director, David Crabb, said the previous stigma attached to employing apprentices was disappearing.

He said: “It is about long-term investment and commitment to the culture of the company.

“I would encourage other business to consider apprentices as a way to grow.”

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