Seventy-two per cent. of young people completing youth training gain a qualification or a credit towards one, and the percentage of trainees gaining higher level national vocational qualifications is increasing year on year.
Is my hon. Friend aware that the modern apprenticeship scheme has been well received in Hertfordshire? Will he join me in congratulating Hertfordshire training and enterprise council on the excellent lead that it is taking in the manufacturing sector?
I shall, indeed. Hertfordshire training and enterprise council has taken the lead in the engineering and manufacturing sector and must be congratulated on that. Eighteen prototype modern apprenticeships are up and running and 40 more are expected next year. When they are fully in place, 70,000 people a year will be qualifying at NVQ 3 level through modern apprenticeships, which is a step change in the skills supply of this country.
All the studies show that it is at NVQ level 3—the technician/junior management level—where our skills problems are most severe by comparison with our competitors. That is why we introduced modern apprenticeships and why the White Paper proposed the concept of accelerated modern apprenticeships for those who have stayed on in further education beyond the age of 16. We are very conscious of the fact that there is a problem, and those two measures, in addition to the changes to the funding mechanism for TECs, will encourage far more skills to be gained at that level.
Yes, I can tell my hon. Friend that in the past 10 years the percentage of that age group staying on has doubled: 93 per cent. of 16-year-olds are now in education, training or work.
Where did the Minister get his misleading statistics about the qualifications gained by people on youth training? This month's Employment Gazette states that two years ago, in July 1992, 37 per cent. of people leaving youth training received a qualification or a credit towards one. In July 1994, the figure was only 41 per cent., not 72 per cent., as he claims. I am quoting the Government's own statistics. Why do we constantly hear fiddled figures from the Department of Employment about our crisis in training? In view of the very small growth in youth training, why have the budgets of TECs been slashed every year for the past five years?
Seventy-two per cent. of youth training completers in the year to January this year gained a qualification or a credit towards one—[Interruption.] I am talking about those who complete youth training. They are the statistics with which the House should be familiar. As for funding, the hon. Gentleman will have to wait a little longer.