Sorry that I didn't see this post a few days ago. I hope you got him the programmer - I don't think it would really make a difference that the latest devices aren't supported.
I still mainly use my first-model ICD-U40, which doesn't support anything other than 3.3V or 5V devices and certainly not dsPIC. It doesn't hold me back from doing what I want. Besides, with a good programmer to start with, he could always build himself a new programmer as his skills and needs develop.
Sometimes, a 'limitation' can be a trigger for innovation and learning (I spent nine years as a head of science in a high school