§ The Secretary of State for Education and Employment (Mr. David Blunkett)
We recently outlined plans to improve the quality and rigour of modern apprenticeships, taking account of the recommendations of the skills taskforce and others. We will be consulting on the proposals, which are part of our drive to raise quality and standards in learning, and secure coherence and progression on the work-based route. That will involve foundation modern apprenticeships, which will subsume the youth and national traineeships, as well as expanding the advanced modern apprenticeships that have been so popular.
§ Shona McIsaac
Does my right hon. Friend agree that, in an area such as mine, which has oil refineries, chemical industries, docks and a great deal of manufacturing, it is vital that we provide high-quality modern apprenticeships and vocational training for young people who choose not to go into full-time education after leaving school? That will address the skills gap about which industry in my constituency complains, following years of cheap, low-quality youth training schemes peddled by the Conservatives.
§ Mr. Blunkett
It is essential that such high-quality routes are available; 350,000 young people have entered such schemes, almost 150,000 of them on the advanced modern apprenticeships. The programme that we are putting in place will increase the taught-time element, the specified period of off-the-job training, and the minimum period of training, and will tighten the entry requirements. There will be a clear route to complement the drive to get young people to stay on in full-time education at 16, to ensure that no one enters adult life without the qualifications to guarantee that they can get and hold a job.