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Volume 529: debated on Thursday 9 June 2011

2. What steps he is taking to reduce the burden of administration on employers offering to take on apprentices. (57777)

George Sand said:

“Simplicity is the most difficult thing to secure in this world”.

Nevertheless we are working with employers and their representatives to challenge the requirements and processes imposed on employers taking on apprentices. We have identified a number of areas where we will streamline or remove unnecessary bureaucratic processes, demonstrating that the Government are absolutely committed to beating bureaucracy and to breaking down barriers wherever we find them.

I thank the Minister very much for that. Does he agree that, to many people, high-quality vocational courses will offer a far better route to gainful employment than a meaningless degree somewhere?

For too long we have assumed that the only route to accomplishment is through academic prowess. I believe that practical, technical and vocational competence not only serves economic need, but instils the purposeful pride that enriches lives, cements communities and builds a better Britain.

A director of Sirus Automotive who lives in my constituency would like to take on apprentices, but he has had his grant of £129,000 from Advantage West Midlands cut. Will the Secretary of State look into that to see why, as this is committed spending, his grant cannot be paid to him so that he can take on more apprentices?

I will be more than happy to look into that matter on behalf of the Secretary of State. It is absolutely right that that where there are barriers of the kind that I mentioned a moment ago, we identify and overcome them. I would be happy to talk to the hon. Lady on that basis.