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Chris backed Surrey County Council’s apprenticeship drive as the authority kicked off a series of events to encourage more businesses to hire young people.

He applauded Surrey for “embracing the need for that real focus on apprenticeships” after the council pledged to boost the job prospects of 500 teenagers by next April.

Surrey Leader David Hodge attended the first event, held in Epsom on Friday. Three more events are being organised for next month, July and September with Guildford, Weybridge and Reigate being lined up as the venues.

They will be followed by the Surrey Opportunities Fair in October, which attracted around 1,800 young people last year and featured 60 colleges, sixth forms and training firms.

Mr Hodge said: “Apprenticeships are good for business and for a successful career, so over the coming year our aim is to give 500 more young people the leg up they need to find work at a tough time and provide employers with the skilled workforce they require to thrive as part of our efforts to promote economic growth.”