The apprenticeships process is to be simplified, making it easier for retailers to offer the opportunity to more young people.

Skills minister John Hayes has announced a package of measures to make the process more attractive to employers, including a simplified payments process and streamlined contracts. A number of data returns and audit requirements will also be eliminated.

Companies that contract directly with the government to train apprentices will also receive more guidance to help them better manage recruitment, training and assessment.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "For far too long too many businesses have been put off by overly complex procedures and unnecessary paperwork. We've worked with business to cut bureaucracy and ensure the benefits for employers, learners and the economy are maximised."

The British Retail Consortium welcomed the move. Director general Stephen Robertson said: "Simplifying the system should make the process easier for businesses and ensure that more apprenticeship opportunities are created."