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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 March 2008, 15:29 GMT
Plans to improve skills of young
Construction apprenticeships have been in high demand
Plans to give every 16 to 18-year-old the right to an apprenticeship have been unveiled by Scottish Labour.

The proposals, to be put before the Scottish Parliament in a bill, could deliver almost 30,000 places.

The Scottish Government refused to back the plans, claiming it was wrong to force employers to take on apprentices.

The bill was unveiled by MSP John Park, who left school at the age of 15 to work as a trainee electrical fitter at the Rosyth Dockyard in Fife.

The Mid Scotland and Fife Labour MSP launched the plans - also opposed by the Liberal Democrats - at the Carnegie College's school of engineering and technology, formerly the dockyard's apprentice training centre.

In Rosyth, it's not unusual for companies that use the school of engineering and technology to have over 300 applicants for 10 positions
John Park
Labour MSP

The centre is training the next generation of skilled workers who will assemble the new Royal Navy aircraft carriers as well as providing apprentices for companies across Scotland.

Mr Park said: "Apprentice numbers in Scotland have increased significantly over the last 10 years, however, quality vocational training opportunities are increasingly hard to come by and modern apprenticeships have hundreds of applicants for every place.

"Today, in Rosyth, it's not unusual for companies that use the school of engineering and technology to have over 300 applicants for 10 positions."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said ministers were committed to increasing appropriate training places to 50,000 over the next three years and expanding modern apprenticeships.

"Compelling employers to recruit apprentices through legislation is not the answer," she added.

"Rather than just have more apprentices, we will improve the quality, while expanding the reach of the modern apprenticeship programme."

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