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Volume 476: debated on Monday 2 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) apprenticeships and (b) advanced apprenticeships there were in (i) his Department and (ii) the agencies for which he is responsible in the most recent year for which figures are available. (206801)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) currently has no apprenticeships.

A pilot for apprenticeships, being run by Government Skills—which has recently become part of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills—is due to start in September. The FCO is in the process of evaluating scope for us to be involved in the pilot as a precursor to rolling out an apprenticeship-based induction for our support staff intake next year. The apprenticeships will offer National Vocational Qualification Level 2 and 3 qualifications in Business Administration.

FCO Services, a Trading Fund of the FCO, runs an advanced apprenticeship scheme for IT engineers. They have recruited an average of eight advanced apprentices per year over the last three years and currently have 22 advanced apprentices on their headcount. In September 2008, eight of the current advanced apprentices are due to graduate to substantive positions within their specialism. FCO Services currently plans to recruit an additional 30 advanced apprentices during this financial year.