The number of Surrey’s 19 to 24-year-olds in employment is rising significantly.

Annual figures show the number of new Surrey apprentices in this age bracket to have swollen by 8.5 per cent since last April, more than 2,200.

This was helped by the county council’s cash incentive scheme to fill 500 apprentice places in a year, a target smashed two months early.

Surrey leader David Hodge said: “Reaching this 500 milestone in less than 10 months is fantastic news.

“It is a great boost for young people getting on the first rung of the career ladder, which is why we’ve set a goal of filling 500 more apprentice places in a year.”

Businesses hired more than 410 apprentices through the cash incentive initiative, the council took on a further 100 young people and contractors filled about 25 places.

This forms part of the council’s push to stimulate economic growth, which has cut by half the number of young people in the county out of education, training or employment.

Mr Hodge added: “Whether it’s in construction, retail or social care with the county council, we’re doing all we can to help young people into the world of work.

“Apprenticeships equip them with the skills they require, give businesses the workforce they need to thrive and help the economy grow.”