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Nick Clegg dubs apprentices Britain's 'economic backbone'

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has praised young people undertaking apprenticeships, stating that they will form the “economic backbone” of Britain.

Speaking at the Skills Show in Birmingham, Mr Clegg highlighted the hard work being done by people who choose to undertake apprenticeships and other vocational training routes instead of following the prescribed route to university.

Criticising the “old-fashioned” view that university degrees are the best option after school, Mr Clegg said: “We need to get beyond this rather fusty, old-fashioned view that the only good thing for a young person to do after school or a college education is to take an academic qualification.

"There are lots of really, really bright youngsters who will provide the economic backbone of this country for decades to come who just don't want to have their nose stuck in a book for three years.”

The Deputy Prime Minister highlighted other countries' success when it came to embracing vocational training. Scandinavian societies, for example, have got past the “snobbery” over apprenticeships and now put them on an equal pedestal with academic qualification.

Theo Pathitis, an entrepreneur, host of Dragons' Den and a patron of the Skills Show, added that the experiences young people can pick up from getting their hands of and doing things for themselves "cannot be beaten."

This is the second year that the Skills Show has been held and organisers are expecting to attract around 100,000 visitors. The event has hosted a number of apprentices who have shared their successful stories with audience members, as well as big businesses keen to highlight the benefits of joining their apprenticeship schemes.