How about the Construction Industry Training Board assisting existing NVQ students a bit more?
I am a 28-year-old woman currently doing Carpentry NVQ level two as a night class at Cambridge Regional College. During the day, I work on site as a carpenter. I am self-employed, as is the person who is training me. I have had to train in this way as I wouldn't be able to pay my mortgage if I were earning an apprentice's wage. Unfortunately the person training me may have to abandon the project, as the time taken to teach me is coming out of his earnings.

There seems to be no mechanism in place to assist people such as myself. I have enquired about apprentice grants, explaining my situation, but have received no reply.

And I am one of the lucky ones – at least I have actually got a job in the trade. There are 15 people on my course and only three of us will actually gain an NVQ – the other two being 16-year-olds who can get by on an apprentice's £75 a week. The remaining students (all mature) have been unable to find work placements and will only qualify for the ICA, which does not require site experience. The chances are that they will never manage to break into the industry as few employers are interested in tradespeople without site experience. It is still widely held that one can become a tradesperson only by "serving one's time".

Surely the CITB could help people such as myself and my classmates. Here is a whole body of people who are actively trying to gain access to the industry, only to have the door slammed in our faces. Something is not quite right …