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Volume 493: debated on Monday 1 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills which Government bodies are involved in the implementation of the apprenticeship programme for 16 to 18 year-olds; and what role each such body has in respect of that programme. (272682)

I have been asked to reply.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families has lead policy responsibility for apprenticeships for 16 to 18-year-olds in England, and works closely with the Department for Innovation, University and Skills to ensure a coherent programme for young people and adults. A joint policy unit serves the needs of both Departments.

The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) has end to end responsibility for the delivery of the Apprenticeship programme, a role that will be confirmed in the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill currently before Parliament. NAS is currently housed within the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), which is responsible for funding and contracting of post-16 provision. NAS works closely with the National Employer Service within the LSC to provide an integrated service to large employers delivering Train to Gain and Apprenticeships.

The Prime Minister and both the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department for Innovation, University and Skills are determined to see a continuing renaissance in the number and quality of apprenticeships, and we work closely with the National Apprenticeship Service to ensure a coherent programme for 16 to 18-year-olds in England.

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many people commenced (a) level 2 and (b) level 3 apprenticeships in (i) North West Cambridgeshire, (ii) Cambridgeshire, (iii) the East of England and (iv) England in each year since the scheme was introduced. (275921)

The following table shows the number of people starting an apprenticeship in North-West Cambridgeshire parliamentary constituency, Cambridgeshire local authority, east of England region and England by level for 2003/04 onwards, the earliest year for which we have comparable data.

Apprenticeship starts






Apprenticeship starts

NW Cambridgeshire












East of England












Advanced Apprenticeship starts

NW Cambridgeshire












East of England













1. Area is based on home postcode of learner.

2. Figures for parliamentary constituency have been rounded to the nearest 10. All other figures have been rounded to the nearest hundred. Figures may not sum to totals due to rounding.

3. A small number of Higher Level Apprenticeships are included in the Advanced Apprenticeship figures.

4. Figures for England include those learners with missing postcodes, and home postcodes outside of England.



The Government are committed to rebuilding Apprenticeships. 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.

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what events were (a) held and (b) visited by Ministers in his Department during Apprenticeship Week in February; and if he will post on his Department’s website a copy of the report on apprenticeships commissioned by his Department from Populus. (276303)

During Apprenticeship Week there were events across the length and breadth of the country, across sectors and industries, employers and providers, Sector Skills Councils and Learning and Skills Council (LSC) regions. The activity generated over 600 pieces of national, regional and trade coverage that conveyed the diversity and strength of apprenticeships.

The week received full cross party support from MPs and Ministers. Some examples of these events are:

Gordon Brown visiting Ipswich to launch the Federated Apprenticeship Scheme,

MPs across the country including Lord Young, Gillian Merron, Tom Levitt, Mark Todd, Gordon Marsden, David Evennett, Douglas Hogg, Maria Eagle, Angela Eagle, Malcolm Wicks, Joan Ryan, Bill Etherington, Joe Benton, Phil Willis, Richard Caborn, George Howarth, Natascha Engel and Hugo Swire went back to the floor to learn from the brightest and the best apprentices in a range of industry sectors.

Regions and stakeholders up and down the country ran events aimed at encouraging employers to take on more apprentices. These were supported by a large bank of spokespeople, local authorities, national employers and celebrities. There are too many to list but some examples are:

The LSC East Midlands had an Apprenticeships stand at a Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce Showcase event in Derby.

There was an employer lunch hosted by Luton Borough Council, a joint employer event with the London LSC and City & Guilds.

An employer seminar was held at the North East Business Fair on Recruitment and Retention showcasing the benefits of taking on apprentices.

A business breakfast took place at Bentley Motors in Crewe.

The North West Apprenticeship Summit took place in Cumbria.

Two business breakfasts were held in the South East in Slough and Crawley.

Private and public employer business breakfasts took place in Wellington, Devon, Bristol and Somerset.

There was a public sector event in the West Midlands.

There was an event for retail employers hosted by Skillsmart Retail with guest speaker Theo Paphitis.

An Apprentice Summit hosted by Cogent, employer workshops and events hosted by Construction Skills, Creative & Cultural Skills, Habia, Improve, Lantra, Lifelong Learning UK, Management and Standards Centre, MetSkill, People 1st, Skills for Justice, Skills for Security and SkillsActive.

Colleges were also heavily involved with both independent events and activities such as Exeter College in the South West organised a parade of 50 Performing Arts Students through the town to raise awareness of apprenticeships.

Secretary of State John Denham attended two events during the week.

1. He co-hosted an employer seminar with Secretary of State Ed Balls and Sir Alan Sugar which was attended by over 350 employers. It offered employers an opportunity to question the Ministers and Sir Alan about the value of apprenticeships.

2. Secretary of State also visited Southampton Football Club where he met an Apprentice Footballer who has been nominated for the Football Association’s Apprentice of the Year Awards.

Lord Young also took an active role in the events of the week:

1. He gave 20 interviews to promote the business case research findings including Radio 5 Live, Radio 5 Wake up to Money, BBC Radio 2 as well as numerous regional stations.

2. He participated in a webchat with Simon Waugh, Chief Executive of the National Apprenticeships Service and Dave Walsh from British Telecom. It was aired on 14 websites including The Guardian and Personnel Today.

3. Lord Young also went back to the floor, returning to British Telecom where he began his career as an apprentice.

David Lammy MP also participated in the week:

1. He was accompanied by an apprentice from Government Skills for the day. The Apprentice, John, got an insight into the day in the life of a Minister through attending meetings and witnessing the Minister being interviewed at Millbank.

Sion Simon MP visited the opening of Sutton Coldfield/Matthew Boulton Learning Resource Centre during which he met a group of Apprentices at the business centre.

The Populus research referred to was not commissioned by the Department for Innovation Universities and Skills, but by a PR agency on behalf of the Learning and Skills Council. The research was published on 24 February in conjunction with a press notice released to support the activity during Apprenticeship Week. It is available on the National Apprenticeship Service website.