Alex Salmond said 77,402 new opportunities have been delivered over the past three years with the majority going to young people.
The First Minister recently announced the target will be extended to 30,000 new modern apprentices a year by 2020.
Speaking at the launch of Scottish Apprentice Week, Mr Salmond said: “I am delighted to launch the fourth annual Scottish Apprenticeship Week which gives us an excellent opportunity to promote and celebrate the great work that apprentices are doing and the fantastic opportunities that many companies and organisations across Scotland are providing for our young people.
“I am very pleased to see that all of our efforts continue to reap rewards, with such a strong achievement rate over the past few years. Over 77,000 new starts is an incredible achievement and is testament to employers, training providers and, above all, our enthusiastic and talented young workforce.
“There is no complacency as much still needs to be done to tackle youth unemployment and that is why only a matter of weeks ago I pledged to implement a year on year increase to 30,000 new MA starts each year by 2020.
“This year’s Scottish Apprenticeship Week will be an excellent opportunity to draw attention to the value that MAs could bring to employers, and help encourage them to make young people their business.”
Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2014, organised by Skills Development Scotland, will see more than 120 events.
Damien Yeates, Skills Development Scotland chief executive, said: “More than 25,000 Modern Apprenticeship new starts are testament to the efforts of employers and individual apprentices across the country.
“Scottish Apprenticeship Week celebrates Modern Apprentice employers and the achievements of apprentices, who play a vital and valuable role in Scotland’s economy.
“Skills Development Scotland will continue to support employers to provide more opportunities to help people develop their careers.”