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Mandelson pledges £4.5m to double apprenticeships

Some £4.5m in funding has been ring-fenced by the government specifically for apprenticeships and trainees in the engineering construction sector.
Lord Mandelson, the secretary of state for business said the funding will mean the number of opportunities for young people to train for skilled jobs will double to 1,200 by 2011.

The funding is not new but news that it will be ring-fenced for apprenticeships and trainees was announced by Lord Mandelson. He said:'The engineering construction sector employs up to sixty thousand people in the UK. This new investment means that more home grown workers will be provided with the skills and experience needed for them to take the work opportunities that designing, building and maintaining the wave of new investment the country needs in power stations and energy infrastructure'.

The £4.5m is comprised of £1.5m from the new Joint Investment Scheme pilot announced in the national skills strategy and will be matched by industry funding. Some £3m of the total funding is part of government's increased investment to support advanced Level 3 apprenticeships (provided the industry makes the apprenticeship places available).

A spokesman for the government said it 'will make additional funding available from 2010-11 for the extra 35,000 advanced apprenticeship places for 19-30 year olds. Where heating and ventilation employers wish to improve their skills base and are employing an apprentice on an apprenticeship framework, we will help with cost of training.'

Mark Gibson, a former director general of BERR, was tasked in February 2009 by Lord Mandelson to review productivity and skills within the construction engineering sector. The results of his report were presented to ministers on November 30 with 13 recommendations.

One of the report's recommendations asks that the number of apprenticeships be doubled from 500 on-site apprentices in 2009 to 1000 by 2011 plus increases in other trainee numbers particularly graduates. The review recommended the government commit to £4.5m per year, partly matched by an increased industry contribution.

Another recommendation is for a new forum of clients, contractors, trade unions and other industry bodies to be established to oversee implementation of these recommendations. Ian Marchant, chief executive of Scottish and Southern Electricity, has agreed to chair the forum.

The Gibson Review is available on the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills website Gibsonreview
2 December 2009

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