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Valuable as well as popular

The criticisms of apprenticeships made in Joseph Lee's leader ("Runaway demand isn't proof of value", 29 July) are ill-founded. The business and social benefits of the programme are abundantly clear and will not diminish with its expansion.

He also needs to understand the balance of public and private sector funding. Employers make by far the major contribution to costs: wages, all on-the-job training and half of off-the- job training for those over 19 (from 201314, state funding for level 3 and 4 apprenticeships for those over the age of 25 will cease altogether).

Apprenticeships underpin many successful advanced economies, but research shows that England has a lower proportion of apprentices in the workforce compared with competitor countries such as France and Germany.

Other defining characteristics of continental schemes include excellent careers advice and guidance and better educated and motivated young people, so that employers do not have to remedy defects of compulsory education. Perhaps Mr Lee might want to address these issues in a future editorial.

Allan Cook, chair of Semta and WS Atkins and SELEX Galileo; Ian Ferguson, chair of trustees, Metaswitch Networks and Data Connection; Christine Gaskell, member of the board for personnel, Bentley Motors; Rod Kenyon, director, Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network; George Kessler, joint deputy chair, Kesslers International; David Owens, chief executive, Spice; Martyn Price, managing director, CMC; Ian Sarson, group managing director, UK and Ireland, Compass Group; Simon Swords, managing director, Atlas Computer Systems; Mike Turner, chairman, Babcock International Group; Alex Wilson, HR director, BT Group.

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