AN ambitious scheme aimed at helping thousands of youngsters across Trafford gain quality apprenticeships was launched today at the home of Manchester United.

And while the political leaders of all parties jockey for position in Parliament there was a spirit of working together as the Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham was singing the praises of a partnership with Trafford Council's Tory leader Cllr Sean Anstee who will spearhead the scheme, not only to loosen the current restrictions on obtaining funding but also to unlock more government resources between now and 2020. The pair stood against each other in last month's Mayoral election

Mr Burnham, a former Labour minister, who made the announcement on the pitch side at the Old Trafford ground said: "I have asked Sean to lead on Greater Manchester’s employment, skills and apprenticeships portfolio for young people, particularly because Sean has been doing that for a number of years and highly effectively, and from my point of view, I want to show I have left the political point scoring to Westminster and want to work together across party political lines to improve the life chances of young people across Greater Manchester.

"We very much agreed about that when we were standing in the mayoral election, we want people to look to Greater Manchester where young people get more help to get on in life and we want to make sure that here we have a world leading system for apprenticeships where a young person wherever in Greater Manchester can find through a single system opportunities that are the best opportunities for them."

He added: "What we are both agreed is that technical education for too long has been neglected under governments of all colours. All the focus has been on the universities and I think that at least 50 per cent of young people have not been given a fair chance in life and we want to change that here.

"We want to ensure that young people who are looking for apprenticeships are supported. We want our education system to support them and we want businesses to be able to drive the education system in a way that they have never been able to do before and this is that UCAS style system for apprenticeships. We have already got something like that but we want to build it into something really world leading."

Cllr Anstee, a former apprentice himself, said: "The government has a target of 3m apprentices and Greater Manchester's population is about 8 per cent so we are talking about a quarter of a million apprentices by 2020.

"I am less concerned about the number and more concerned about the quality. We will be going to the government and asking for two things to get greater freedoms and flexibility over the existing funding available across the skills and employment system.

"It's a complex system that could be made more simple, but also asking for our fair share of additional resources in line with what Greater Manchester needs for its economy to develop."