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Young People in the Workplace

Volume 447: debated on Monday 12 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will discuss with representatives of the insurance industry problems experienced by young people accessing the workplace (a) as apprentices, (b) as young workers under 18 and (c) on work experience from school and college in relation to (i) obtaining insurance and (ii) the level of premiums required, with particular reference to small businesses and sole traders. (75986)

In March 2004 my officials discussed with the Association of British Insurers insurance issues related to school-age work experience. The ABI confirmed the continuation of the long-standing convention by which school students on placement are considered to be covered by the employers’ liability policy, as if they were employees. Generally, insurers make no charge for this insurance, provided they are notified of the placement in advance or have a longer-term agreement that the employer will regularly offer work experience. There should not therefore be premiums to pay which might act as a barrier to the employer’s involvement. This is also the case when employers take on apprentices. Further discussions on these questions would be welcome.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the impact of child protection policies on the work experience of young people and young apprentices employed by small businesses. (75987)

In December 2004 the Department produced supplementary guidance for people organising work experience which reassured organisers, and through them, schools and employers, about the effective implementation of new requirements designed to ensure the protection of vulnerable young people.

We have no evidence to indicate that work experience placement offers, including those linked to the Young Apprenticeship Programme, have been reduced overall through any impact of child protection policies. Working with the Sector Skills Councils, we have provided advice and support to employers involved in work experience, including the Young Apprenticeship Programme, and we plan further efforts to reassure them about the availability of support on this and other issues which might concern them.

Pupils on work experience and young apprentices are aged 14 to 16 and do not have employed status except for insurance purposes.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what Government help is available to train young workers to NVQ Level 2. (75988)

Apprenticeships are the main programme for young employed people seeking vocational qualifications at Level 2 and Level 3. Other opportunities are also being developed, including a pilot programme that started in April this year aimed at encouraging 16 to 18-year-olds in jobs without training to gain a Level 2 qualification, whether academic or vocational. For those over 19 and without either basic skills or a first Level 2 qualification we have put in place the Train to Gain service to deliver high- quality flexible qualifications in the workplace.