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Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills when he expects a decision to be taken on funding for the development of the National Star College; and if he will take steps to ensure that funding is provided for the development of the college planned before the capital expenditure programme of the Learning and Skills Council was put on hold. 
However, I met with the Principal of National Star on 9 July and agreed to ask the LSC to explore potential options for the college to move forward. This work continues and I can confirm that for the future capital programme, the LSC is working with the Association of Colleges College Reference Panel to consider how to prioritise future investment.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what assessment he has made of the effect of the industrial action by Royal Mail employees called by the Communication Workers Union on small businesses in (a) Vale of York constituency, (b) North Yorkshire and (c) England; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. McFadden: It is clear that industrial action by Royal Mail staff will impact on those customers that heavily rely on Royal Mail services and we are aware that many small businesses throughout the country use postal services on a daily basis.
The Government want to see a successful outcome to the discussions between Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union under the agreement of 6 November and we welcome the appointment of Roger Poole, former Assistant General Secretary of Unison and Chairman
of the Parades Commission for Northern Ireland, to independently oversee the process. It is important that both parties keep talking until an agreement is made on the way forward on the next phase of modernisation, which everyone accepts is vital for the future of the company.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps his Department is taking to encourage holders of Government contracts to develop skills among their workforce. 
Kevin Brennan: The Government are committed to using the unique leverage of their £220 billion procurement programme to promote skills training and apprenticeship opportunities. In September 2009, I announced a new ambition to support 20,000 new apprenticeships over the next three years through Government procurement. Departments and Agencies will play a central role in delivering this ambition by building skills and apprenticeships considerations into both new and existing contracts.
The Department is supporting skills training and apprenticeship places through its procurement spend. In the Learning and Skills Council's Building Colleges for the Future programme, recent estimates suggest that on average one in every 20 workers employed on college construction projects is an apprentice.
In April the then Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and the Office of Government Commerce published practical guidance on how skills training and apprenticeships can be promoted through procurement processes. The guidance has been widely adopted.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what estimate he has made of the proportion of those not in employment, education or training who were unskilled in each of the last 18 months. 
Kevin Brennan: The following table gives the proportion of people aged(1) 18 to 24 in England not in employment, education or training (NEET) who did not hold a level 2 qualification in each quarter during the last 18 months. Monthly estimates are not available as the Labour Force Survey, from which this information is produced, is run on a quarterly basis.
|Proportion of 18 to 24-year-olds in England whose highest qualification is below level 2 or have no qualifications.|
|Percentage of 18 to 24 year olds NEET not qualified to level 2||Percentage of all 18 to 24 year olds not qualified to level 2|
|(1) Age used is the respondents' academic age, which is defined as their age at the preceding 31 August.|
Labour Force Survey
18 to 24-year-olds (academic age), England
Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what proportion of people in Milton Keynes aged (a) 16 to 18 and (b) 19 to 24 years were not in education, training or employment in each quarter of the last 10 years. 
Estimates of participation in education, training and employment for those aged 16 to 18 are published by the Department in a Statistical First Release (SFR) each June and can be found on the Department's website at
These estimates cannot be broken down to local authority level. However, Connexions services collect information on the number and proportion of 16 to 18-year-olds NEET in each local authority area. Figures for Milton Keynes are shown below. Figures for Milton Keynes are not available prior to 2006.
|16 to 18-year-olds NEET in Milton Keynes (Connexions estimates)|
We are making all 16 and 17-year-olds an offer of suitable place in learning through the September Guarantee. The Department has asked local authorities to focus in particular on those who are disengaged from education or missing school. The 14 to 19 curriculum reforms are creating a range of different learning opportunities suit all young people, including those who need help to re-engage in learning. Connexions services provide tailored support and advice, both on accessing education, employment or training, and on personal issues.
My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister announced on 18 November plans to guarantee an offer of an Entry to Employment place to any 16 and 17-year-old who is not in education, employment or training (NEET) in January 2010. This will give those who were not ready to engage in learning in September, or who have since left, a further opportunity to get the skills they need to succeed.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills how many people aged between (a) 16 to 18 and (b) 19 to 24 years old in each ethnic group were not in education, training or employment in each quarter of the last 10 years. 
Kevin Brennan: The table gives the number and percentage not in education, employment or training (NEET) broken down by ethnic group for people aged(1) 16 to 18 and 19 to 24 in England. Due to the small sample sizes involved in analysis at this level of detail, quarterly data will not give robust estimates and the Annual Population Survey has been used instead.
Please note that these estimates are subject to large sampling variability and should therefore be treated with caution and viewed in conjunction with their Confidence Intervals(2) (CIs), which indicate how accurate
an estimate is. For example, a CI of +/- 4.2 percentage points (pp) means that the true value is between 4.2pp above the estimate and 4.2pp below the estimate.
(1) Age used is the respondent's academic age, which is defined as their age at the preceding 31 August.
(2) Those given are 95 per cent. confidence intervals.
|People not in education, employment or training in England|
|Aged( 1) 16 to 18||Aged( 1) 19 to 24|
|Ethnic group||Number NEET||Percentage NEET||Confidence Interval (percentage)||Number NEET||Percentage NEET||Confidence Interval (percentage)|
|(1) Age used is the respondent's academic age, which is defined as their age at the preceding 31 August.|
(2) Other ethnic group includes respondents of mixed ethnicity.
The ALALFS covers the period from March in the given year to the following February.
16 to 24-year-olds, England
Annual Population Survey 2004-08, Annual Local Area Labour Force Survey (ALALFS) 2001-03
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