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Volume 487: debated on Tuesday 3 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what information his Department holds on the number of apprenticeships which have been interrupted by redundancy in the current economic situation; and what steps he is taking to (a) reduce that number and (b) mitigate the effects of redundancy on individual apprentices. (247754)

We do not currently hold data centrally about the total number of apprentices made redundant. Working with ConstructionSkills and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) we have established a matching service to help apprentices in the construction sector at risk of redundancy to find alternative employment and to complete their apprenticeship. More generally, providers and the LSC have procedures to advise and relocate apprentices, in cases where providers or employers fail, to help ensure that they are able to continue in work and complete their apprenticeship. The £140 million package announced by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister last week for an additional 35,000 apprenticeship places will help fund new provision in both the public sector and private sector, and will extend the opportunities available to people facing redundancy. This package will further boost the number of people starting an apprenticeship which has increased from 65,000 in 1996/97 to 225,000 last year and further improve the completion rate which rose to an all-time high of 64 per cent. in 2007/08.

We do have some information on redundancies in the construction sector where 295 redundant apprentices have been subsequently re-employed. We are continuing to help 1,040 redundant apprentices in the construction sector. We also estimate that around 150 apprentices were employed by Woolworths. We are working to establish how many of these apprentices have been found alternative employment.