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Volume 493: debated on Tuesday 2 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what recent steps his Department has taken to help school leavers between the ages of 16 and 18 years-old find employment through training and apprenticeship schemes. (272683)

We are determined to ensure that as many young people as possible continue their learning beyond the age of 16 to get the qualifications and experience they need to succeed in an increasingly competitive labour market. Many will continue their learning in the workplace through an apprenticeship or work based learning programme.

All 16 and 17-year-olds will be offered a suitable place in education or training under the September Guarantee. We announced in budget 2009 an additional investment to allow 54,400 more young people to take up a place at school, college or with a training provider. This is in addition to plans recently announced to make available an additional 17,500 apprenticeship places for 16 to 18-year-olds across the public and private sectors. Schools, colleges and Connexions services will give young people in Cheshire the advice and support they need to find a suitable opportunity.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many hours a week on average 16 to 18 year-olds spent on apprenticeships in each industrial sector in (a) England, (b) the North East, (c) Teesside and (d) Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency in the latest period for which figures are available. (276624)

Apprenticeships for young people are normally full-time and the hours that each individual spends on their framework each week are a matter for the apprentice and their employer. Some apprentices work part-time. Information about the number of hours that apprentices work and train each week is not collected centrally. We are currently consulting on a specification for apprenticeship standards in England which proposes a minimum number of guided learning hours per year for all apprentices.

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.