The Scottish Government’s highly successful modern apprenticeship programme is a key element of our approach to economic development and youth employment. We have supported more than 190,000 new apprenticeship opportunities since we came into office in 2007. We are on track to meet our commitment to deliver 30,000 new modern apprenticeship opportunities a year by 2020. Last month, the Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training announced that the target for 2016-17 will be 26,000 modern apprenticeship starts.
I have been contacted by representatives of Ardfern Yacht Centre, in Argyll, who are keen to take on an apprentice boat builder to train with their experienced team. They have identified the young person, who is keen to fulfil the role, but they are experiencing problems accessing funding support from Skills Development Scotland, because the formal theory parts of the MA are delivered only at three specialist training colleges in the south of England.
Will the minister investigate the case and encourage SDS to be as flexible as possible, so that that business can take on an apprentice boat builder? After all, Scotland has a fair reputation for building boats and ships of all classes. Was not “Clydebuilt” once a byword for excellence?
I know that this is Mr McGrigor’s last question time—or perhaps not quite, as he might have a few more questions to come this morning. I thank him for providing a copy of his supplementary question, which he tweeted yesterday. That was very helpful.
On the serious question that Mr McGrigor has raised, I will be happy to look into the specific case. SDS is always available to discuss options, and that applies to the member’s constituent, as it applies to anybody else who is seeking to do their best to make young people their business. Nonetheless, I undertake that we will look into the case to see where matters stand.
The last point that Mr McGrigor raised was about Clydebuilt ships. I hope that he is aware of the announcement a couple of weeks ago by Ferguson’s at Port Glasgow that it will take on 150 new apprentices. That is very good news, and I am sure that Mr McGrigor would wish to welcome it.