Further 2000 14 year olds starting Apprenticeships in 2005. 250,000 16- 20 year olds Apprentices

Minister for Skills and Vocational Education, Ivan Lewis today announced that with this year's initial recruitment of 1,000 Young Apprenticeship places complete, a further 2,000 14 year olds will begin training under the scheme in September 2005. Further expansion plans will be unveiled in the Government's 14-19 White Paper due to be published early in the New Year.

Visiting the first pupils engaged out of school on Young Apprenticeships, he also announced more vocational and work-related learning opportunities under the Increased Flexibility Programme for 14-16 Year olds.

Speaking at the Young Apprenticeship scheme, he said:

"This is a historic step forward in our commitment to putting world class Young Apprenticeships at the heart of our offer for 14 and 15 year olds. It is exciting to meet gifted and talented young people who have chosen Apprenticeships as their first choice option.

"This scheme brings vocational learning into the mainstream and offers talented youngsters a chance to experience learning in the environment which suits them best. It offers a unique chance to combine school studies with learning alongside skilled workers.

"Under the scheme schools remain responsible for their pupils but work in close partnership with employers, the Sector Skills Councils, colleges and learning providers to deliver the curriculum.

"A quarter of a million 16 to 20 year olds are now undertaking apprenticeships in this country and the time is ripe to expand the Young Apprenticeship programme as well. This is an exciting development for young people - building on their strengths and offering up opportunities which will lead into skilled employment or Higher Education, or both. Apprenticeships are one of the best ways both to fill the country's skills gaps and help young people realise their potential."

Stephen Gardner, Director of Work-Based Learning for the LSC, said:

"Apprenticeships are the lifeblood of the vocational career route for young people. Their strength lies in their ability to deliver nationally recognised job-specific technical skills and transferable key skills. They are an asset to our country and our economy."

Ivan Lewis was visiting an automotive Young Apprenticeship scheme in Bournemouth. Patricia Richards, Chief Executive of Automotive Skills said:

"Automotive Skills looks forward to taking an active part in developing the second cohort of the young apprenticeship programme. We are committed to building quality provision, where pupils benefit from an excellent learning experience and employers benefit from helping to develop the talent this industry needs for its future success".

Ivan Lewis added:

"I am also announcing today an extension of the Increased Flexibility Programme (IFP) for 14-16 Year Olds that has successfully created enhanced vocational and work-related learning opportunities for young people at school by enabling them to attend courses with training providers, colleges and other agents.

"With the 3rd cohort of IFP launched this September, the Secretary of State has agreed to fund a fourth cohort of the programme from September 2005. The programme has led to the creation of 295 partnerships involving around 2,000 schools and over 90,000 pupils. In addition, I can also announce that there will be an additional £4.25m of funds for existing partnerships in this financial year"

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