To help apprentices through the current economic situation, we have set up a clearing house for construction apprentices which has already placed two-thirds of those referred with a new employer or training provider.
We will examine urgently whether this model can be developed in other sectors. And we will look at additional ways of providing apprenticeships, including the employment of apprentices by Group Training Associations; and giving the best employers support to train more apprentices than they themselves need in order to equip smaller companies in their supply chain.
Funding for apprenticeships is planned to increase by almost a quarter between 2007-08 and 2010-11, to over £1.1 billion. We do not allocate funds on a sectoral basis. We are concerned about the position of apprentices in the construction industry and just a few weeks ago, my right hon. Friend announced a new taskforce with major employers and unions to explore how we expand construction apprenticeships and improve training opportunities. We also announced the creation of a clearing house to match redundant construction apprentices with employers in their region to enable them to finish their training.
The current Education and Skills Bill requires schools to provide impartial careers education. Information about apprenticeships is included in 14-19 area prospectuses. We are also building a new apprenticeships national vacancy matching service which will enable employers to advertise vacancies for young people wanting apprenticeships to consider the opportunities and make application online.
The Apprenticeships Draft Bill contains provision to ensure that schools inform young people about apprenticeships. We are also examining whether it is possible to achieve this outcome without primary legislation through other mechanisms such as statutory guidance.