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Volume 523: debated on Thursday 17 February 2011

Carlisle has five major factories, as well as many small ones, and they all need a skilled work force. Does the Minister agree that the expansion of apprenticeships is vital to fill the gaps in our economy, and that apprenticeships must get the status they deserve?

Yes, we must drive up their status; we must elevate the practical. The aesthetic of apprenticeships matters, and I am determined to ensure that those who achieve vocational, practical and technical competence are as revered as—indeed, perhaps more revered than—we who pursued the academic route.