§ Dr. Spink
I thank my right hon. Friend for that excellent news. Will modern apprenticeship scheme places be available in smaller firms such as Mechtric Engineering, which employs 20 highly skilled engineers, designers and technicians in Castle Point? Would apprenticeship places be appropriate in a company such as Mechtric, bearing in mind that this week it celebrates its silver jubilee, the award of its BS 5750 certificate and the fact that it exports the world-beating 7150 material testing machine?
§ Mr. Hunt
I join my hon. Friend in congratulating Mechtric Engineering on the trio of achievements that he set out. He is right that engineering is one of the key areas. I am delighted to say that I have already been made aware that there are advanced arrangements for prototypes not only in electrical installation engineering, but in engineering construction and manufacture and marine engineering. Many other sectors are already lining up to start the new modern apprenticeship scheme next year and I am delighted about that.
§ Mr. Clapham
Is the Secretary of State aware that President Clinton and his advisers are looking not to Britain as the model to follow, but to the Germans, because they believe that the German universal apprenticeship scheme will provide the necessary platform for a modern economy? What steps is he taking to link national vocational qualifications to a more universal apprenticeship scheme?
§ Mr. Hunt
On the first point, when I attended the recent jobs conference in Detroit I found considerable interest, not only on the part of the United States but on that of our German colleagues in G7, in our new modern apprenticeship scheme.
On the second point, we are linking the new modern apprenticeship scheme, as I said, to NVQ level 3 because 665 we believe that that is where the skills gap exists which we must fill. The hon. Gentleman will also be aware of our plans for linking training much more to output and especially linking it much more to the opportunities that the new NVQ system offers to every member of the population.