SCOTLAND has been set a target of 20,000 modern apprenticeships by 2002. But the latest figures from the implementation group in Scotland show there were only 12,600 apprentices by the end of last year.
The group recognises "the scale of the challenge" and has appointed a project manager to lead a promotional campaign.
Figures from England show that only 30 per cent of those who register for a modern apprenticeship complete it.
The Stirling paper describes the take-up of the scheme as "disappointing" and points out that mos apprentices are working in the traditional areas of administration, construction, engineering, motor vehicles and retail.
Under the Stirling proposals, all existing youth training programmes such as Skillseekers and New Deal would be swept away to be replaced by apprenticeships, which could cost anything from pound;8,000 to pound;30,000 for a three-year period.
The paper estimates the initial cost at pound;130 million a year, paid for from axing existing initiatives and shared between the apprentice, the employer and the taxpayer.