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Volume 488: debated on Monday 2 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills pursuant to his Department's press release of 7 January 2009, on additional apprentices, how many of the 35,000 additional apprenticeship places for 2009-10 are additional to those referred to in his Department's press release of 8 December 2008. (254504)

The volume of apprenticeships we planned for 2009-10 were set out in my Department’s grant letter of 18 November 2008 to the Learning and Skills Council.

All the 35,000 apprenticeship places announced on 7 January 2009 are additional to these planned volumes. Our press release of 8 December 2008 highlighted high street companies that are expanding their apprenticeship programmes and therefore helping us towards our ambitions for significant growth in the apprenticeship programme. Clearly, we will need to explore whether these companies and other employers, both large and small, across the public, private and third sectors can do more to help us provide extra places. Our national advertising campaign which started this week and the new National Apprenticeship Service will promote the value of apprenticeships to employers to ensure we deliver jobs and training for young people and adults. This will build further on the record number of apprenticeship starts and completions delivered last year; the best since 1997.

Since 1997 we have witnessed a renaissance in apprenticeships from a low point of 65,000 to a record 225,000 apprenticeship starts in 2007-08. Completion rates are also at a record high with 64 per cent. successfully completing an apprenticeship—up from 37 per cent. in 2004-05.