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Part of Opposition Day — [19th Allotted Day] — Tax Fairness – in the House of Commons at 4:26 pm on 12th March 2013.

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Photo of Gordon Marsden Gordon Marsden Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills) 4:26 pm, 12th March 2013

That support is entirely welcome. Indeed, there might be more occasions when the current Government should look at examples from the devolved nations.

Ever since the Government admitted the need to guarantee that quality apprenticeships would have to be 12 months or longer, we have been pushing these points. That is the only way to ensure that social mobility and apprenticeship expansion can go hand in hand. However, the Government have dithered and dallied, and precious opportunities have been squandered for many young people. The traineeship consultation, which is welcome, was launched only at the beginning of this year, but now the Government have to spell out in detail how they will avoid it becoming a rerun of the youth training scheme of the 1980s, which merely recycled young people off the jobless figures.

The Labour party recognises, therefore, that we need a step change to expand apprenticeship opportunities for young people and to support smaller businesses to take part. That is why, this time last year in Blackpool, I laid out a series of apprenticeship initiatives from our Front-Bench team to do just that. They include Government expansion and encouragement of group training associations to aid smaller businesses and the promotion of best practice in buddying, with larger companies working with smaller ones in their supply chains to create apprenticeships, as well as a larger direct role for business and industry in creating and setting apprenticeship frameworks and direct involvement in careers advice and guidance.