Skip to main content

Further Education Funding

Volume 460: debated on Thursday 24 May 2007

10. If he will make a statement on extending further education funding to support 17 to 19 year olds. (138963)

Further education funding is available in England to support all young people aged 16 to 18 to undertake learning free of charge. Financial support is also available for those learners in the form of the education maintenance allowance. We are also extending free study to young adults aged 19 to 25 to study for their first full level 3 qualification from this September, supported by an expanded adult learning grant for those learners.

What plans do the Government have to extend the modern-day apprenticeship scheme for people in that age group and beyond it? Congratulations to the Government are in order for introducing it. I remember, Mr. Speaker, that when I was first elected to this place, I got some bad advice from a junior Whip, and you gave me a row when I made a contribution. I came over and apologised, and asked what I had done wrong. You said to me, “You took advice from the apprentice, not from the journeyman.” That has stuck with me. The modern apprenticeship scheme represents a good working class principle, and credit for that worthy scheme should be given to the future deputy leader of the Labour party.

My hon. Friend is right to suggest that the modern apprenticeship scheme has been remarkably successful. As an apprentice to the Secretary of State, I learn a great deal. We have trebled the number of those apprentices which, as my right hon. Friend suggested earlier, was dealt a devastating blow by the Conservatives. We want to provide better alternative pathways for young people—as well as an academic pathway, there is a pathway through an apprenticeship and through the new diplomas that we will introduce, which will ensure that more 16 to 19-year-olds stay in full-time training and education.