§ Mr. Jim Cunningham
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps he is taking to encourage the take-up of apprenticeships. 
§ Mr. Ivan Lewis
[holding answer 8 December 2003]The Government are wholly behind Modern Apprenticeships as a high quality work-based learning option for young people. We are fully committed to implementing the reforms recommended by the Modern Apprenticeships Advisory Committee under Sir John Cassels, which included a major boost to the marketing of MAs, and to more recent Skills Strategy announcements. Under Sir Roy Gardner a business-led Modern Apprenticeship Task Force is taking a key role in promoting MA to employers and thereby contributing to increased take-up. We have adopted a PSA target for 2004 of 28 per cent. of young people entering a Modern Apprenticeship before the age of 22. We have made sufficient resources available to ensure that we meet this target and are on course to achieve it.