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Apprenticeships

Volume 510: debated on Thursday 3 June 2010

What steps will be taken to ensure that the new system of apprenticeships reaches out to the very smallest businesses in my constituency and elsewhere? All too often in the past the very smallest businesses have had great difficulty in getting the information that they need to engage apprentices.

My hon. Friend is right. The apprenticeships system needs to be built from the bottom up, which is why the Government are determined, as the Secretary of State said earlier, that small and medium enterprises should be supported in securing apprenticeships. We intend to introduce an apprenticeship bonus, which will help those small businesses to participate. We want to look at supply-side barriers and at root training organisations that will help small businesses to take on more apprenticeships. We are committed to apprenticeships in a way that has not been seen for years, perhaps not ever.

That is breathtaking. How can businesses in the supply chain in my area be expected to take on apprenticeships while there is so much uncertainty surrounding the reviews being undertaken on Vauxhall Motors and Airbus?

There is no uncertainty. Let me be clear about this Government’s commitment to apprenticeships. Even in the short time that we have been in office, we have transferred money into the apprenticeship programme that will allow the creation of 50,000 more apprenticeships. That is just the start. My ambition is no less than to build a system that facilitates more apprenticeships in Britain than we have ever seen before.