Your article on modern apprenticeships ("Skills flagship fails to inspire", THES, August 8) ignores the fact that completion rates are improving overall and that the figures for 2002-03 look to be better still.
The modern apprenticeship is at the core of the skills strategy white paper launched last month. By providing attractive routes to work-based learning we will get more young people into apprenticeship programmes and raise the status of vocational education.
We have set ourselves the goal of improving the quality of apprenticeships and increasing the number of young people entering them. Our target is for 28 per cent of 16 to 21-year-olds to be entering apprenticeships by 2004. A three-year programme of reforms recommended by the Modern Apprenticeship Advisory Committee in 2001 is well on the way to being achieved, thanks to the hard work of the Learning and Skills Council and its partners.
Stephen Twigg MP
House of Commons