If employers respond as we expect, around 70,000 young people each year in England will gain a national vocational qualification level 3 or higher through modern apprenticeships and accelerated modern apprenticeships.
Does my hon. Friend agree that modern apprenticeship schemes are just what many bright young people and, indeed, employers need today? Will he commend the training and enterprise councils that have made progress in that direction with such success and will he redouble his efforts to bring together employers and TECs in areas where progress has not been made so that the success can be consolidated?
Yes, Madam Speaker. My hon. Friend speaks from a position of great advantage because HAWTEC, the TEC in his area, not only was one of the first to receive a three-year licence but is one of those closely involved in the development of a prototype modern apprenticeship in retail management. That is a great step forward and an example that should be followed by all TECs. We are doing everything we can to ensure that the prototypes will be increased by 42 extra sectors this autumn and that there will be plenty of opportunities for everyone who wishes to follow a modern apprenticeship in the future.
Does the Minister realise that south London has experienced not only the bankruptcy of skill centres but the insolvency of its training and enterprise council and cuts? What effect will that have on young people's training and what example are the Government setting to those young people in how they run their affairs?
The decision to bring in the receivers to the South Thames TEC was regrettable, but necessary to protect taxpayers and trainees. The hon. Gentleman should be aware that we have already given a commitment that we shall do everything that we can to ensure that training programmes are not interrupted and that training providers are guaranteed funding for the next three months for programmes that they have already contracted. We are discussing with local authorities and others how the provision of training in that area will continue after 1 April. The hon. Gentleman should not expect any diminution in the training effort in the South Thames area, in any other part of London or in the country as a whole.