I was delighted to learn that Gordon Brown plans to raise spending on apprenticeships in England and Wales to Pounds 1 billion, increasing the number of apprentices to 35,000.
In Scotland, the construction sector recruited almost 5,000 apprentices in 2007; this year, we will be fortunate to recruit half that number. Third and fourth-year apprentices face the prospect of failing to complete their training with little support available to employers to take them on.
There are a lot of good things happening, such as the recent launch of the Construction Skills Academy in Scotland which aims to produce 800 apprentices a year, and the opportunities available from the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. And industry bodies like ourselves are doing what we can to match apprentices to employers. However, with the funding arrangements making it more attractive to take on a new start than offer a redundant apprentice a chance to complete his or her training, this is proving an uphill struggle.
Michael Levack, Chief executive, Scottish Building Federation, Crichton's Close, Edinburgh.