Accompanied by some very inclement British summer weather, last Wednesday saw the launch of the 2013 Dorset Business Awards.

The launch event took place at Deans Court in Wimborne, where the owner, Sir William Hanham, and his team put on an excellent spread for the 130 guests, VIPs and Awards sponsors.

Entry for the Awards opens today and closes on September 10, so judging can begin.

Once again the awards will finish with a glamorous gala dinner at the Lighthouse, Poole on Thursday, November 28.

Following last year’s James Bond theme, this year we focus on “Dynamic Dorset” and details of the dinner and 10 awards categories are shown on the website dorsetbusinessawards. On a more serious note the DCCI remains con-cerned about the continuing high level of youth unemployment.

The fall of 43,000 ann-ounced last week is very welcome, but the overall figure of 950,000 remains far too high.

The good news is the number of young people joining apprenticeship schemes continues to grow.

At a breakfast seminar last Thursday, organised by the DCCI in conjunction with the British Chambers of Commerce and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, presenters from government, training and education encouraged employers to take on apprenticeships to help protect their future employment needs.

Local employer Jim O’Neil told us how his company, Superior Seals, had set up its own training academy with a mission to help provide the future workforce of the company.

One of Jim’s success stories is 25-year-old Ben Clarke, who gave a glowing report on how he had worked his way through the company’s apprenticeship sch-eme and now has the job he worked so hard for at Superior Seals.

Ben and other successful apprentices are very keen to encourage young people to seriously look at apprenticeships as a way into work.

He leads “Apprentices Mean Business” (www.apprentices, the new Apprentice Ambassador Network for Dorset.

The network aims to increase awareness of apprenticeships in all sectors and create more career opportunities for young people.

Ben and his fellow Apprentice Ambassadors want to share real experiences with students, teachers, parents and employers showcasing all the benefits that apprenticeships bring.

For too long the education system has put too much emphasis on further education ahead of equally worthwhile vocational qualifications, so it is very refreshing to hear of more apprenticeship scheme success.