The Scottish Government's target to deliver 27,000 new modern apprenticeship opportunities in 2017/18 is on track, the First Minister has said.
New figures show that by the end of December more than 18,700 apprentices had started their training across Scotland.
The statistics were highlighted to mark the launch of Scottish Apprenticeship Week.
The target will be increased to 28,000 in 2018/19 and for the first time will include graduate apprenticeships.
The move will mean people can study for university-level qualifications while in paid full-time employment.
Speaking as she met with modern apprentices at Lothian Buses in Edinburgh, Nicola Sturgeon said: "Skills investment is a key contributor to our economic growth.
"That is why we have increased Skills Development Scotland's (SDS) funding by 7% to £193 million next year.
"We recognise the vital role skills can play in helping individuals realise their potential allowing our businesses to maximise growth opportunities both now and in future.
"Skills Development Scotland exists to create the conditions for businesses to increase productivity and growth, thereby helping deliver the skills that our people and economy need."
Ms Sturgeon has also confirmed that the skills body is planning a national apprenticeship conference.
SDS chief executive Damien Yeates said: "The Year of Young People is the ideal time to hold Scotland's first apprenticeship conference by apprentices for young people.
"The event will be Scotland's biggest celebration of apprentices, showcasing the talent and achievements of young people who choose to work, learn and earn."