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Equestrian businesses are being encouraged to offer apprenticeships to help steer the horse industry through the recession.

According to Lantra — the skills sector council responsible for environmental and land based industries — apprenticeships will play a vital role in helping the equestrian and horse racing industries maintain and improve productivity during the economic downturn.

And to promote apprenticeships to businesses the Learning and Skills Council are running Apprenticeship Week next week (23-27 February)

The week celebrates and recognises the role of apprenticeships within business in all industries, including equestrianism.

Apprenticeships are available to all ages and provide on-the-job training so that employees can contribute to a business while gaining skills and experience.

Liz Pridgeon, standards and qualifications development manager at Lantra, said: “Apprenticeships give businesses a practical and effective way to develop staff without the need for expensive training courses or taking time away from the work place.

“There is clear evidence that employers find apprenticeships lead to a more motivated and satisfied workforce. This in turn helps to reduce staff turnover, boost productivity and leads to higher profitability.

And recent research by the Learning and Skills Council has shown that 77 per cent of employers believe apprenticeships help make them more competitive.

Ms Pridgeon added: “Employers find apprenticeships give them the edge over their competitors and that can make a massive difference in the current economic climate.”

Ian Hughes (pictured) who is based in Mold in Wales was head farrier at the Beijing Olympic Games. He is an approved training farrier who works with 2 apprentices.

He said: “An apprenticeship is good training from their point of view because it’s all about building a level of skill and confidence. Working alongside someone day to day, they pick up the little things that make a good job.

“As a training farrier it’s great to see your apprentice building a level of knowledge and watch them grow.

“Customers do acknowledge the value of apprentices. If you didn’t have the apprenticeship system this industry would either die a death or the standards would drop.”

For more information visit: www.lantra.co.uk/apprenticeships