A new guide to help youngsters enter careers in the engineering and manufacturing industry by becoming apprentices has been launched.

Engineering Connections, run by EEF West Midlands, has published its new 2005 Apprenticeship Directory.

The guide, which can also be found on www.apprentices.co.uk has been running for the last eight years.

More than one in five applicants achieved their aim of attaining an apprenticeship out of the 700 young people who applied last year.

The website received more than 2.5 million hits between April and October 2004, a record figure.

This year's campaign to match would-be apprentices with employers looking for new talent has been supported by Advantage West Midlands and is being promoted in the region through a poster and bus campaign.

Meanwhile 5,000 copies of the directory have been distributed to schools, colleges and libraries.

Bill Nicholls, director of education and training development at the EEF, said: "More than 1,800 apprenticeships are being offered by companies this year.

"We want to encourage as many young people as possible to take advantage of this service to access a long-term career in engineering and manufacturing.

"The Advanced Apprenticeship scheme is a really excellent way to achieve this." Goodrich Engine Control Systems, which manufactures aerospace components at its four sites in Birmingham, is one of the companies which has benefited from its association with Engineering Connections. The firm has taken on 40 apprentice and is looking to recruit another eight this year.

Bob Green of Goodrich said: "The Engineering Apprenticeship Directory gives us the opportunity each year to advertise our apprenticeship details free of charge and helps us recruit young people to secure the highly skilled people we need for the long term prosperity of the business.

"The Directory immediately places us in front of our core target market and provides us with an invaluable matchmaking service which we would not be able to do ourselves."

One person who has taken advantage of the scheme has been Matthew Duckhouse, who is in the second year of an Advanced Apprenticeship at Goodrich Engine Control Systems.

He said: "Without the directory and the website I would have found it very difficult to find a job in my chosen career.

"The Engineering Connections team helped me at interview and also throughout my first few months as an apprentice.

"I have learned a broad range of craft related and technician skills during this time both in-house and at my local training centre which has been vital in helping me to achieve my goals.

"When my apprenticeship is complete in four years time I hope to go on to higher education and ultimately retain a job long term with Goodrich."