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Clause 2

Part of Education and Skills Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:45 pm on 5th February 2008.

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Photo of David Lammy David Lammy Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills) (Skills) 5:45 pm, 5th February 2008

On the matter of technical certificates, the hon. Gentleman may be running away with himself slightly.

All our apprenticeships are independently assessed, and there is a curriculum framework and a relationship with the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. They are all independently and rigorously assessed and inspected. In relation to the technical certificates, it is precisely because we have sought to be responsive to employers that we have allowed flexibility. I can reassure the hon. Gentleman that the LSC has sought to move away from the technical certificate in only four areas of apprenticeships, including hairdressing. That does not mean that the courses are not still independently assessed by the qualifications agency, but it does mean that we have given it the flexibility that it has sought. I want to reassure the hon. Gentleman on that point, because I looked into it personally after he raised it in the past.

As I have previously explained, part of our rationale for legislating is to galvanise the system to provide appropriate support and opportunities for all our young people by setting a clear expectation in law that all young people must participate until they are 18 years old. We are making it clear that it will no longer be an option to forget the student who sits quietly at the back of the class, watching the clock and waiting until it is time to leave. To link the raising of the participation age to the achievement of our apprenticeship targets in the way proposed by the amendment would remove an important driver for the system, as it gears up to meet the apprenticeship entitlement by 2013. There are further clauses on apprenticeships later in the Bill, and, in light of my reasoning, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will withdraw his amendment.