HC Deb 11 September 2003 vol 410 cc454-5W
Mr. Dhanda

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what action he is taking to increase qualifications at(a) apprenticeship, (b) skilled craft and (c) technician level. [128209]

Mr. Ivan Lewis

We will reform the qualifications framework so that it is more flexible and responsive to employers' and learners' needs. In particular, we will strengthen and extend Modern Apprenticeships as a top quality vocational route, lifting the age cap so that adults can benefit. Through the Learning and Skills Council, we will improve standards in Modern Apprenticeships, engage more employers in providing them and ensure they meet employers' needs. Our target is that by 2004, 28 per cent. of young people will start a Modern Apprenticeship by age 22. We will also support individual learners through a new guarantee of free tuition for any adult without a good foundation of employability skills, so that many more can progress to skilled craft and technician level qualifications, and from there on to the Foundation Degree, a vocational, higher education qualification. We will test this approach from September 2004, before beginning to roll out nationally from 2005 onwards.