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Scheme dies through apathy

Fewer than 100 young people nationwide enrolled for a flagship Government apprenticeship scheme which is now being scrapped.

Education and employment ministers abandoned the Accelerated Modern Apprenticeship for 18 and 19-year-olds less than six months into its first full year due to its poor take-up.

The programme will now be merged with the equivalent scheme for 16 and 17-year-olds. Employers complained that the separate funding schemes used for the two were unnecessarily bureaucratic. Now the older age group will no longer need relevant qualifications to qualify - another obstacle hampering take-up.

Under Modern Apprenticeships, intended by the Government to help tackle Britain's widening skills gap, employers are subsidised through training and enterprise councils to provide training up to national vocational qualification level 3.

An Ernst and Young review of the pilot year which was published last autumn was the first indication of problems with the accelerated scheme when it revealed the programme was unpopular with employers. Ministers insist the rest of the initiative is proving successful and more than 10,000 apprenticeships are now underway. However, the figure falls far short of the goal of 30, 000 by next month.

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