There has been a widespread welcome from business for the planned shake-up of the apprenticeship system.

Both manufacturing lobby group EEF West Midlands and the CBI say it is heading along the right lines.

It followed Monday's announcement by the Government that it was launching a drive to create tens of thousands of new apprenticeships along with support for firms, such as fast food chain McDonald's, awarding their own qualifications.

EEF West Midlands said the review could make a significant contribution to improving and extending the apprenticeship programme.

Ian Smith, chief executive, said: "This review is a step forward and we welcome many of the proposals contained in the strategy. However, it is essential we get the speedy implementation of some of the key recommendations if the Government's ambitious targets for 2020 are to be met."

In particular, EEF believes there should be funding for those of all ages including a commitment to support mature apprenticeships and the clarification of how apprenticeships fit in with diplomas, higher education and other qualifications. The framework also needs to be flexible enough to open up apprenticeships to a broader range of companies, it suggests.

EEF West Midlands has also reiterated its call for reform of the careers service to ensure parents and young people are aware of the full range of opportunities available to them.

"In tandem with the expansion of apprenticeships, we must ensure that the careers guidance young people receive provides adequate information on their benefits, along with more radical action to encourage employers to establish new apprenticeship schemes."

CBI deputy director-general John Cridland said: "Business welcomes the Government's ambition to get more people on apprenticeship schemes.

"We need more young people taking onthe-job training and gaining qualifications that provide access to exciting and well-paid careers, as well as delivering skills that businesses need to compete.

"But the focus must be on quality as well as quantity. Reform of the apprenticeship system is vital, otherwise the relevance and status of apprenticeships will suffer and more employers will not get involved. Setting up a National Apprenticeship Service to deliver and be fully accountable for the programme and creating a 'matching service' to help employers fill apprenticeship vacancies are positive steps.

"But the Government must also address poor quality careers advice, enable apprenticeships to adapt more quickly to firms' changing skill needs and ensure that the way literacy and numeracy skills are taught shows young people their relevance in the workplace. Employers are willing to play their part by promoting the benefits to young people in schools."

Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced the Government was aiming to increase the number of apprenticeships by 90,000 over the next five years so that 220,000 people were on such training schemes every year.

Whitehall departments will be told to create more apprenticeships and firms will be encouraged to target more girls for certain jobs, such as those in engineering and construction.