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Pay plumbers to train apprentices

I was pleased to see the article "Huffing and puffing won't help plumbing" (TES, January 3), explained the futility of the Government's target that 50 per cent of school-leavers should experience higher education by 2010. I fear this sort of policy fuels the view that the vocational pathway is for failed scholars.

The article rightly said that governments have not recognised the importance of apprenticeships. Modern Apprenticeships being introduced will not help the skills shortage in sectors such as plumbing that have many small employers who regard apprentices as a burden.

The Government needs to appreciate that an apprentice's employer is a training provider, who needs to be rewarded. Unless it does, it is unlikely to achieve its ambition for adequate apprenticeship places.

Finally, a small error in the article: the word "craftsmen" - "craftsperson" is more appropriate. This institute has more than 50 women members and some are registered plumbers.

Brian Whorlow Member, Board of trustees Institute of Plumbing 8 Manor Close Canterbury, Kent

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