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Microsoft has pledged to create 4,000 new jobs in the UK, with the bulk of them to be reached through apprenticeships.

"In 2011, Microsoft expects its Britain Works programme to generate 4,000 new jobs, in addition to the 9,000 new jobs created since launch in 2009," said Microsoft UK's managing director Gordon Frazer in a statement on Downing Street's Number10.gov.uk website.

PM David Cameron applauded the pledges by Microsoft and 18 other companies, which he obtained after talks with industry leaders. "We can only get our economy back on track by creating a climate in which the private sector can grow and develop," he said, "creating jobs and opportunities for people across the country," he said.

Retailers dominated the pledge group, though other industries were also represented. Sainsbury's, for example, pledged to create 6,500 jobs this financial year; Tesco said it was "well on track to create 9,000 jobs" during the same period; ASDA, 7,500; and Morrisons, 7,500 – the latter's pledge added a torturous turn of the Queen's English when it said the company was "committed to the skilling of our new recruits."

Also part of the mix were Centrica, 2,600; Jaguar Land Rover, 1,500 at Halewood; McDonalds, 3,000; and Shell, Toyota, and others an unspecified number.

In his statement, Microsoft's Frazer conflated apprenticeships with jobs, saying that Britain Works "creates new jobs in the form of highly skilled apprenticeships and opportunities for entrepreneurs to start new businesses."

A Microsoft spokeswoman attempted to clarify Frazer's statement, telling ZDNet UK that "4,000 full-time jobs will be created by Microsoft through apprenticeships, which will result in full-time paid employment in a new job, and through the [Microsoft] BizSpark scheme, which helps software start-ups succeed."

"Its time we looked forward to a positive, strong, confident Britain," said Cameron. ®

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