HATFIELD, England, March 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- March 14, 2013, EE, the UK's most advanced digital communications company, today announced plans to recruit 500 apprentices by 2015 as part of its commitment to provide the UK's best network and the best service, boost the local economy in areas where EE operates, and help get young people into work. The successful candidates will join EE's Customer and Retail teams across the UK on a 15-month apprenticeship. As part of the scheme EE apprentices will spend one day a fortnight at College studying towards their apprenticeship plus extensive on the job training. On completion of the scheme candidates will gain a qualification in Contact Centre Operations or Retail, depending on which team they join. EE plans to offer the majority full time employment after their 15 month apprenticeship is completed. EE has been trialing the scheme over the past year in its Customer team, and has so far recruited 101 apprentices. Ninety percent of vacancies, which are open to all and require no previous experience, have been filled by candidates under the age of 22, with a quarter of them aged 16 or 17 - highlighting the strong desire amongst Britain's youth to get into the workplace. The apprentices are assessed on their communications skills, potential to be successful in their role, and their enthusiasm and interest in working for EE. Jackie O'Leary, Chief Customer Officer, EE said: "We recognise the importance of providing a platform for Britain's young people to develop professionally, as well as contributing towards the local economy and community in the areas that we operate. With one million unemployed 16 to 24 year olds in the UK, big businesses should play a central role in providing employment opportunities and training up tomorrow's talent." Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "We can only build a stronger economy working with business. Apprenticeships are a good example of this partnership, with Government helping companies to address skills shortages and create more jobs. The announcement of EE's apprenticeship scheme, and the company's intention to take on 500 new apprentices and provide them with the skills and knowledge to approach the workplace with confidence, is welcome news. I hope that during National Apprenticeship Week more employers up and down the country will look to increase their workforce by taking on new apprentices." Jobs will be available across the UK, with 100 opportunities in EE's retail estate by the end of the year. A significant proportion will be in areas of high youth unemployment as five out of six of EE's contact centre locations, including Doxford, North Tyneside, Merthyr Tydfil and Darlington, are in areas where the number of young people on Jobseekers Allowance is above the national average of 7%. For example, in North Tyneside it stands at 15%, with Merthyr Tydfil at 14.3%. EE apprentice James Newman, who works in the Android Product Support team in Darlington, said: "The structured learning of an apprenticeship and being part of a close-knit team has been great for me. Having a routine has helped me manage my time and money, and I'm constantly learning new skills that help me both inside and outside of work. The thing I enjoy most about the job is the level of support that we receive not only from our direct line of support, but the whole community." Gary Streeter, MP for Devon South West, said: "With the rapid pace of technological change, improving the skills and employment chances of young people is more important today than ever before. I warmly welcome EE's launch of an apprenticeship scheme in Plymouth, and across their business, and EE's ongoing commitment to improving the nation's digital skills." To further develop its workforce and increase opportunities for its 15,000 staff, EE also provides a unique Fast Track scheme for front line employees allowing them to complete up to four six-month placements in their chosen area across the business. EE will also launch a graduate scheme in the coming weeks.