Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers
MP AND LORD
22 OCTOBER 2008
Q100 Mr. Pelling: I want to
follow up John's question and Lord Young's earlier comment. As
for producing quality of apprenticeship, surely the kudos will
really come when people feel confident that their earning power
will be significantly improved by the apprenticeship. What will
the Government be able to tell people about the prospects for
improved earning power if you secure the step change in the quality
Lord Young: There is an easy answer
to that. If people receive little or no training, their potential
earning power is severely reduced. With an apprenticeship, they
will get a guaranteed accredited qualification. They will get
a quality experience both in what they learn while getting their
technical qualification and in their work-based training, which
John rightly emphasised. It has to enhance their potential earning
power and their career fulfilment. People can unfortunately be
described as a mere shelf-stacker, implying that they have no
skills whatsoever. That has been limited to a tiny, narrow, experience
and we are trying to lift people out of that description. That
is why apprenticeships are important, not just across the areas
that John described and the heavy engineering end that our Chairman
described, but right throughout industry.
Jim Knight: It is fundamental
to each one of the 180 apprenticeship frameworks that they can
each tell a story. If you complete the apprenticeship successfully,
and apprenticeship completions are up significantly over the past
few years, that will improve your life chances, earning potential
and so on. The Training and Development Agency is an example that
will be of interest to this Committee. It has developed and renewed
the apprenticeship framework for teaching assistants. I am keen
to see an expansion of apprentice teaching assistants in our schools.
We need to be able to tell the story of how that will in turn
deliver work that is satisfying in every sense, including payment.
We are setting up the support staff negotiating body. That will
be part of telling that story. Obviously you have the opportunities,
once you are trained and employed as a teaching assistant, to
progress as a higher-level teaching assistant. We are developing
those support staff roles on and on. That is a story that we can
tell as we try to encourage people into that apprenticeship.
Q101 Chairman: A teaching
assistant can become a teacher, eventually.
Jim Knight: Yes. I am sure that
many of us know examples in our constituencies of individuals
who have perhaps started by volunteering in schools, become a
teaching assistant, continued training, done an OU course, got
the degree and then gone into the graduate teacher training programme
and become a teacher.
Chairman: That is proper progression.
Q102 Mr. Slaughter: Can I
carry on a little bit about the employer side of the matter? I
do not know about my colleagues, but I am not sure that I am persuaded
by your answers so far. You rightly said that the Government's
record is very good so farsince the Labour Government came
into office, the numbers of starts and finishes of apprenticeship
schemes have tripledbut is it not getting more difficult
now to ensure that employer places are there? I cannot see much
in the Bill that will do that. The Bill seems almostJohn
used the phrasesymbolic. It is almost as though the Government
are drawing attention to what they have done so far and saying
that they wish they could do more, and that they put the resources
in and tried to make it attractive to young people. But if there
is not a commitment by a substantial number of large and medium-sized
employers to do this, will it not fail?
Jim Knight: I urge you to read
clause 21, which is a long clauseit goes on for a couple
of pages. It is principally about the duties of the LSC. To deliver
on the guarantee set out in clause 3(e), the LSC will have to
work extremely hard on engaging employers. To be able to do this
it is, for example, expanding its current field force of 230 people
to 400 staff, going out and working with skills brokers who have
that day-to-day contact with employers to encourage them to take
on apprenticeships. We have some specific work going on at the
moment with ConstructionSkills, the sector skills council for
construction. Obviously with the decline in house building at
the moment there is a particular issue there. We have managed
to grow to over 20,000 apprenticeship starts in construction and
we have aspirations to go much further, but we have to be able
to work quite closely with them as the economy changes, to ensure
that we can continue to fulfil those. Public sector construction
will play quite an important part in that. For example, this autumn
we are acting to specify the provision of apprenticeship places
as part of constructors' obligations in getting involved in Building
Schools for the Future; and on 27 October, the use of procurement
will form part of our discussions with our ministerial colleagues
on how the public sector can do its bit in apprenticeships. In
essence, the LSC will have to deepen the use of existing apprenticeship
agreements. It will have to look at other sectors and parts of
the country where there is not a strong tradition of apprenticeships
and then forge strong relationships with employers and employer
groups, to get them to see the value of getting entrants into
their industries, particularly when times are tough economically.
We can successfully ride out the economic circumstances only on
the basis of skills. We share with the CBI and other employer
organisations the strong message that now is the wrong time to
stop investing in training and skills for the work force. Obviously,
we also saw the announcements that John Denham and others made
yesterday about trying to help small and medium-sized businesses
by using some of the Train to Gain money to achieve that.
Lord Young: You are right to emphasise
the size of the task. For a start, there is a battle for hearts
and minds with small and medium-sized enterprises. I have been
going out and meeting groups from SMEs that are signing up to
the skills pledge, and we have had the 100,000th company sign
up to Train to Gain, so interest is increasing, but it will be
a difficult time. What do we seek to do? Well, we seek to remove
obstacles. Is engaging apprentices now complex and difficult?
Yes, it is difficult for an employer, so we want to remove the
obstacles. The national apprenticeship service will provide a
single point of advice and guidance for employers interested in
apprenticeships. We will soon be rolling out the first trials
of the vacancy matching service, so that employers can register
their vacancies and those seeking apprenticeships can find them.
It is also important to ensure that employers feel that those
apprenticeships are relevant to their industry or occupation.
The programme has to be demand-led, so we are working with the
sector skills councils so that they can help to design the frameworks.
They cannot just design any old framework, however; it has to
meet the criteria defined in the blueprint. To sum up, one part
of this is about removing obstacles to make it easier for employers
to engage apprentices. The other part is winning the battle for
hearts and minds in the way the Minister just described. Employers
have to believe that having better skilled staff will prepare
them to survive the challenges they are going through and to come
out of this situation with a stronger company.
Q103 Mr. Slaughter: Is not
the problem that you are relying extensively on persuasion and
on trying to convince people that something is in their interests?
I am interested in what you said about procurement as a route,
but are you not trying to push water uphill, in the sense that
the whole organisation of the employment sector and the economic
circumstances are going the other way? A generation or two ago
there were large organisations, in both the public and the private
sector, that were almost hardwired to provide apprenticeships.
That was the case in central and local government, nationalised
industries and big firms, but we no longer have that. We are also
possibly in an economic downturn in which there will be opportunities
to come. My experience of local government, going back 20 years,
was that we would take over something that had been privatised
and where all the apprenticeships had gone, renationalise it and
bring the apprenticeships back, and now it has been privatised
again and they have all gone again. You can try to hold the waters
back, but the general trend is towards cutting costs, whether
by Gershon in central Government or elsewhere, but is not the
net effect that apprenticeships are some of the first things that
go, and all of the good will expressed here will not change that?
Chairman: We do not have time for both
Ministers to answer each question.
Jim Knight: I cannot pretend that
it is going to get easier, because of the economic circumstances.
I discussed that yesterday with the LSC's chair and chief executive
and others. I have asked them to do a piece of work about itcrystal
ball gazing really, because it is very difficult to predict exactly
what is going to happen in the future. More difficult economic
circumstances will, in some ways, create a driver for young people
to want to acquire more skills. It is not going to be as straightforward
for them to go and get other work with lower levels of skills,
so the demand may increase, but it is going to make supply more
difficult. That is why it is really important that the public
sector steps up to the plate. John Denham has an apprentice working
in his private office.
Lord Young: So have I.
Jim Knight: So has Tony. Even
at that simple level, there is more that we can do. If I could
get an apprentice teaching assistant in every schoola slightly
ambitious aspirationthat would be 23,000 apprenticeships.
There is a lot more that we can do across the public sector. At
the moment, we are talking a lot about what the public sector
is doing, as we take over a few of the things that the private
sector gets up to. It is important that we drive this forward.
We have set up a structure at permanent secretary levelled
by Ian Watmore, the Permanent Secretary at DIUSwith ministerial
champions in every Department to drive it forward. The Ministry
of Defence has a very strong tradition in this area, and we need
to learn from those that are doing well. Obviously, we must work
with the private sector as well, and we have some employers that
are hugely committed to thisorganisations such as BT and
Rolls Roycebut we need to deepen and widen it into other
sectors, perhaps with the public sector taking a lead. We also
need to listen to voices such as the CBI, which is very strong
Q104 Mr. Slaughter: Do you
see part of the problem as being work force mobility? Again, when
you go back a generation, an employer who was prepared to put
the investment into an apprentice, might expectalthough
obviously the apprentice would not be indentured for lifethat
that investment would be repaid. That is no longer the case, for
a number of reasons. Is there anything in the Bill that can deal
with that issue?
Jim Knight: There is nothing in
the Bill that deals with that specifically, beyond what is in
the clauses around the apprenticeship frameworks, which are really
designed to make it easier for sector skills councils. It is important
that it be done sector-by-sector. There are employers who are
working discretely themselves, and they have the confidence to
be able to do it and to take the risks around mobility. As we
have also seen with Investors in People, if you can get a group
of employers locallywe have training associations that
are also looking to set up together at the smaller end of the
employer rangethey are not taking a risk on their own.
They are sharing the risk. If they are training people who then
go and work for one of their competitors, but they have confidence
that their competitors are also training people whom they can
then employ, they are sharing the risk and there can be a positive
outcome at the end. We have seen that with IiP and, equally, we
can we can see it with apprenticeships.
Q105 Fiona Mactaggart: I am
glad that the effort is being put in, but it seems to me that
the reality on the ground is different. I got an e-mail from the
mum of a 17-year-old lad in my constituency, except he is not
in my constituency anymore. The previous e-mail that I received
from her told me that he had already written 99 letters to employers,
that he had done all the college bit of his apprenticeship and
that he could not find an employment placement. He has found one
nowin Leeds. She quite reasonably feels that her 17-year-old
son being based in Leeds to do his plumbing apprenticeship is
a bit much, although she is very glad that he has got the place.
I am wondering whether we have sorted out the tension between
the need for the young person to get broad and balanced training
across a sector, so that they have the base that can give them
the flexibility that they will need in future, and a world in
which companies have become more specialised and cannot offer
that flexibility. I do not see the Bill as providing any intelligent
way of resolving the tension that exists in the modern world.
Jim Knight: The guarantee in clause
21(2), in proposed new section 3E(2) of the Learning and Skills
Act 2000, specifies a test of reasonableness in paragraph (2)(c),
with the phrase "within the person's reasonable travel area."
Say you want to be an apprentice plumber and you live in Slough.
I do not think that any court would judge that Leeds was within
a reasonable travel area of Slough. The Learning and Skills Councilthe
Skills Funding Agency, as it will becomeand the NAS (National
Apprenticeship Service) within that will have to work very hard
in places such as the south-east to ensure that they have the
engagement of employers wanting to take on apprentices within
the reasonable travel area of every young person in this country,
even those in Slough. I was pleased to see, when looking at the
statistics yesterday for 16-to-18 apprenticeships, that there
was some growth. Although the big growth that we are seeing is
in adult apprenticeships, there is some in apprenticeships for
16 to 18-year-olds. The really spectacular growth is in the London
area. So, we are starting to see some signs of change, but we
have a lot further to go. That is why we have placed quite a robust
duty on the LSC in that important clause, by stating "within
the person's reasonable travel area", to try and tackle exactly
the problem that you are talking about.
Q106 Fiona Mactaggart: There
is no mechanism that I can see for the LSC to deliver, because
there is no duty on the employer. There is no bribe for the employerno
special arrangements. Employers are under greater tension now.
I have had a really positive response from employers in Sloughone
of the most productive areas in the countryto our demand
for more skills training and so on. They all say, "Fine,"
but they really keep not turning up stuffthey say nice
stuff, but they cannot do it, because they are so focused on their
bottom line at the moment. I do not see how giving a duty to the
LSC is going to make employers do what they need to do.
Chairman: Lord Young, how are you going
to do it?
Lord Young: You used the word
"bribe". I do not know whether you can bribe employers,
but I think that, first of all, we have to remove the obstacles,
because there are still obstacles. We have to make it easier for
them to do it. Secondly, we are paying for the training. We are
not paying wages, but we are paying for the training costs of
apprenticeships. That is a significant cost. What will make employers
do it? I think that we are down to convincing people that, if
they want to improve the performance of their company, a better
skilled or better trained work force will do that for them. So,
there will be a multiplier effect, if you like. Obviously, the
more that we can persuade to do that, the better. I do not think
that we are arguing that we do not have a job to do or that there
are no difficult circumstances, but it depends whether you see
the glass as half full or half empty. We certainly do not see
it as half empty. We do not have a situation where there are no
apprenticeships. Our task is to drive up the numbers and to persuade
and demonstrate to employers that there really are tangible advantages.
Now, contained in the Bill, as the Minister has already said
Jim Knight: Please call me Jim.
Lord Young: As Jim said, there
are a number of things that we believe will do that. The one-stop
shop is a place for employers to go tothe vacancy matching
service. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating. We are
not in any way underestimating the size of the task. I think that
our focus, not just on large companies, but on small and medium-sized
enterprises, is also important.
Jim Knight: I think putting a
duty on employers, tempting though it might be, would be the wrong
thing to do. Employers have got to want to do this, if they are
going to give apprentices the experience that we want them to
receive. If they are reluctantly bringing in these young people
to give them some training because the law says that they have
got to, those young people will not get the experience that they
need. We have to engage employers and we are doing that through
skills brokers. Train to Gain is starting to have an impact in
being able to work with employers, understand their skills needs
and offer subsidised or free training. It is easier to engage
larger employers than smaller ones. We can work with sectors by
looking at the supply chain of larger businesses. Having gone
through their procurement, we can look at how they can encourage
employers to offer apprenticeships. There are things that we can
do. My take is that imposing a duty on all employers would be
unwieldy and would probably not give the outcome that we want.
Q107 Fiona Mactaggart: I absolutely
agree. I was not arguing for imposing a duty, because I do not
think that that would work. I was shocked at a meeting I had with
three cutting-edge biotechnology companies in Slough
Lord Young: What size were they?
Fiona Mactaggart: They were reasonably
large. They were medium-sized to large companies such as UCB Celltech
and Lonza. I was talking to them about training because I wanted
them to engage in this issue. They were talking about having difficulties
with technician-level skills. Because the development of biopharmaceuticals
is relatively new, there is no traditional route. I spoke to them
about apprenticeships and suggested that instead of handing the
problem to the Government, they should converse with each other
and work together to develop an apprenticeship scheme. I was shocked
that they had no ideas at all about apprentices. Their first response
was that they cannot carry the cost of people who are not performing
for a long time. That is an obvious point about apprenticeships.
We give tax breaks for research and development. Apprenticeships
are like R and D. You are investing in your future in the same
way that you do with R and D. However, we do not provide tax breaks
for employers in the same way if they invest in apprentices. I
am not saying we should mandate that they must be provided, but
if we structure the financing using tax breaks for a group of
companies like those in biopharmaceuticals, they could be up for
it and put their management energy into making it happen. The
brokers have not been anywhere near them and do not know what
they are like. All of the goodwill at the moment is just not landing.
Chairman: I ask colleagues to keep their
questions a little shorter and the Ministers to make their answers
a little shorter, as we are still on section 1 of four sections
Jim Knight: Tony and I both have
brief things that we want to say.
Chairman: Lord Young?
Lord Young: This is a point I
had forgotten. Next year we will be starting a trial of wage subsidies
for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Q108 Chairman: You mean providing
Lord Young: Yes, that will be
trialled. We are also talking about meeting over-training costs
of some large employers to get them to train beyond their needs
to support supply chains. Those are the two approaches being tried.
Jim Knight: From the scenario
you set out, there are clearly areas and sectors that we have
not got into. In addressing the geographical disparities, we will
go to areas that have different sorts of industries from the rest
of the country. The relationship between apprenticeships and other
qualifications is also important. One of the most enthusiastic
backers of the phase 4 science diploma is the pharmaceutical industry.
We are seeking to engage the biotech industries in that. For example,
you could do a Level 2 diploma at 14 to 16-years-old and go on
to do a Level 3 apprenticeship to develop the skills of a laboratory
technician. The pharmaceutical industry is crying out for those
sorts of skills. That underpins why companies such as AstraZeneca
are on the diploma development partnership for science. They see
a clear gap in the qualifications set-up for delivering those
Chairman: Everyone wants to come in on
this section so we will quickly hear from Sharon and Paul before
we move on.
Q109 Mrs. Hodgson: You answered
questions about employee mobility and the fact that employers
might train up apprentices who will then take their skills elsewhere.
I am interested in the employer commitment to offer real jobs
to these apprentices at the end of their training, especially
in light of the fact that we may be going into an economic downturn.
I am wondering what safeguards or guarantees there will be for
the young people, to stop what happened in the 1980s with the
youth training scheme, where young people were trained up over
a period but there was never a real job at the end of it. Employers
used the YTS (Youth Training Scheme) as a source of cheap labour,
so I am wondering if there are any guarantees in this scheme that
that will not happen.
Jim Knight: In terms of the Bill,
this would be contained in the apprenticeship agreement, where
we are making sure that this is defined as an agreement between
the employer and the learner. In that respect, the agreement would
be similar to an employment contract. In terms of guarantees,
it is difficult to say that it would be more of a guarantee than
an employment contract, but it would be difficult to say that
it is less than the guarantee that you would get in an employment
contract. I think that the apprenticeship agreement is significantly
more robust than the YTS in that regard. We have taken some care
to define the agreement in clauses 16 to 20 of the Bill, to provide
some clarity and some robustness in that regard.
Lord Young: The only thing that
I could add to that is that we are talking about a much better
product than the YTS for a start. What has the young person got?
Unfortunately, regardless of apprenticeships, you cannot guarantee
any job within a company necessarily; the company might collapse.
What has the individual got? Well, they have got a clear set of
both transferable skills and genuine craft skills.
What is the recipe for survival in a downturn?
Is the recipe having no skills or having a range of skills? I
would say that the recipe has got to be having a range of skills.
There is no absolute guarantee, but we are saying that we will
not have a situation where there is not a genuine contract between
an employer and an apprentice in order to qualify for the term
Q110 Paul Holmes: To return
to the financial issue that Fiona was talking about, the British
Chambers of Commerce, in the evidence that it submitted to the
Committee, said that businesses, especially small and medium-sized
enterprises, will require financial incentives and support for
apprenticeships. Nick Edwards from Lewisham College told the Committee
that, as long as colleges are well paid for delivering training
for apprenticeships, employers should also be paid for the training
part of it. Jim talked about Train to Gain, but the fear is that
witnesses have said that employers will use Train to Gain because
it is free up to Level 2 and they will not use apprenticeships
because there is no money for them.
Jim Knight: As Tony has just said,
we are trialling the wage subsidy for SMEs, because we need to
build some evidence to see whether that is an issue. I think that
there is varying feedback on whether wage subsidy will be the
answer. Some people arguethat is why we are trialling itthat
it is the tipping point that pushes employers into deciding that
they want to do it. However, most people agree that people are
involved in apprenticeships not because of the wage subsidy, but
because they value these young people or adults who are working
in their workplace and doing a good job for them. In the end,
that is where we want to get everyone to. We do not want them
to be motivated to do it because of wage subsidy, but if wage
subsidy creates the tipping point, it is worth pursuing. That
is why we are trialling it.
Q111 Paul Holmes: But look
at Denmark, for example. A few years ago, the old Education Committee
looked at further education and adult skills training in Denmark.
Denmark has a system where there was the employer levy on everybody
and everybody took part in providing apprenticeships. We were
told that they felt that they had already paid for that through
the levy, so they might as well make use of it. As I said before,
the fear here is that you get Train to Gain, all the evidence
for which so far says that most of it is deadweight money, with
employers using that money for things that they were providing
themselves initially. Now, however, they let the state pay for
it, and that will just work against everything that you are trying
Jim Knight: I am not sure, particularly
at this point in the economic cycle, that imposing a levy on all
employers is the wisest thing to do.
Q112 Paul Holmes: I was not
suggesting that it was, although a year or two ago the skills
White Paper was saying on every page that this is the last chance
saloon for employers and that if they do not put the money up
and start training, perhaps we would have to do something about
it. That is what you said in the skills White Paper, but is Train
to Gain going to undermine what you are trying to do with apprenticeships?
Jim Knight: No.
Lord Young: No, I do not believe
that it is. I honestly think that we have to persuade employers
that there is a real advantage to their survival in training their
current employees and in bringing fresh blood into the company
through apprenticeships. There is no side-stepping that, which
is why we have the apprenticeship ambassadors, the other 400 people
going out there working. There are no short cuts to this. I would
not like to engage in what has become almost an ideological argument
about whether to have a training levy or not. We are not in that
situation at the moment.
Q113 Chairman: But Tony, people
say that there is a lot of unspent money from Train to Gain. Can
that be switched across to help apprenticeships or not?
Lord Young: We are trying to use
some of that Train to Gain money to offer SMEs training to improve
their business techniques, management training and so on. I do
not know whether it will be pushed into the apprenticeship area.
Q114 Chairman: Could it be?
It would be terrible if it went back to the Treasury unspent.
Lord Young: I do not think that
it will be under-spent in the current circumstances.
Jim Knight: John committed £350
million of the £1 billion yesterday to the various packages
for SMEs, in terms of relaxing some of the rules, breaking some
things into bite-size chunks as regards qualifications, and allowing
groups of SMEs on business parks in order to do things together.
We must leave something for Train to Gain, having taken £350
million out. I am sure that Tony and his colleagues in the Department
for Innovation, Universities and Skills will be making sure that
they use it.
Lord Young: The other issue is
that Train to Gain is being used for apprenticeships, I am advised.
Q115 Chairman: Is it?
Lord Young: So I am advised by
Chairman: Edward, you will lead us through
16-to-19 apprenticeships and we are going to step up the pace.
Q116 Mr. Timpson: I shall
be as brief as I can. We have spoken at some length about the
careers opportunities for young people through the Bill, but also
about career fulfilment. On that second point, one of the provisions
in the Bill is that people seeking an apprenticeship need to have
two sectors. First, what is the rationale behind that? Is there
not a danger that you will have young people who have a desire
in a particular profession or career path, for which they have
also shown aptitude, but that because they have had to put forward
two sectors they end up in the default sector, where they do not
have the desire or potential career fulfilment that you are looking
Jim Knight: I think that two is
the right balance. I understand your pointthat if we limited
it to one it would be the one thing that a young person might
want to dobut a lot of people are not absolutely clear
about one thing. There might be a couple of things that they would
be interested in doing, and if you can offer the guarantee, it
gives young people more rather than less. If we went beyond two,
the guarantee would become very weak. The chances are that we
would not be far off being able to deliver a choice of three as
it is, so we need something that is a strong driver to the system,
but I think that restricting it to one would deny some opportunities
to young people and we do not want to do that.
Lord Young: That is right.
Q117 Mr. Timpson: Perhaps
we can attack it from a slightly different angle and consider
a situation where a young person has a particular career path
that they want to follow, but there is no demand within that sector
for the apprenticeship that they are looking for. What happens
then? Does the Learning and Skills Council or its successor step
in and ensure that there is an apprenticeship for them, or are
they left to wait until it arrives, which may be too late?
Jim Knight: If a young person
has said that they want to do
Q118 Mr. Timpson: Suppose
they say that they want to go into rail engineering and the response
is, "I'm sorry, there are no opportunities for apprenticeship
in that sector, however, would you like to go into retail?"
Jim Knight: They would specify
their two sectors, so one of them would be rail engineering and
the other would be something else. The duty in the draft Bill
would be on the LSC to guarantee a place within a reasonable travel
distance for them in one or other or both of those sectors. If
they are in Falmouth and they want to do rail engineering, it
may be reasonable to offer that at some distance away where rail
engineering is taking place, perhaps in the wonderful town of
Crewe. That is where the test of reasonableness will come in.
There are some niche occupations where there will not be that
many geographical locations where it is reasonable to offer that
apprenticeship. That is why the vacancy matching service is very
important. We can put all those vacancies up nationally and people
can see, even if they want to get into a fairly niche apprenticeship
framework, where they are available and where they can go to do
them. If they want to become a plumber in Falmouth and everybody
Mr. Pelling: Especially Joe.
Jim Knight: Joe is a plumber;
he does not need one at all; he is his own plumber.
Q119 Mr. Timpson: What we
need to establish is whether this will be an employer-led apprenticeship
scheme or one where the young people who are looking for apprenticeships
are given a helping hand by the duty placed on the LSC. Can you
clarify whether a young person who is looking for a particular
sector for an apprenticeship and it is not available to them can
come to you for help?
Lord Young: Obviously you want
to try to satisfy young people's requirements, but we cannot guarantee
that there will be apprenticeship places in all occupations in
all locations. It might be nirvana but I do not think that we
are going to get there, are we? Life is full of difficult choices.
When young people are making career choices now they are tending
to think a bit more about what is likely to be available when
they have gone through whatever it is that they are going to do,
whether that is an apprenticeship or academic qualifications.
They may want to do rail engineering, but they might find that
it is not on offer locally and they might consider doing some
similar form of engineering. We will obviously try to ensure that
the maximum choice is available, but it would be wrong to imply
that it will always be there. It will not in current circumstances.
I do not think that is different from any time in the past when
there were thousands and thousands more apprenticeships available.
They were not always available in every place in the country.
You had to look at the labour market. Our job is to drive up the
number of quality apprenticeships that are available and to give
people a reasonable choice, which we are trying to do with the
two-sector definition. That will be quite a challenge in itself.