Labour 'apprentice for each foreign worker' scheme


Labour leader Ed Miliband: "It is wrong that millions of people in our country are going out to work, unable to afford to bring up their families."

Labour has said it plans to make large companies train a new apprentice for each skilled worker they hire from outside the EU.

The policy would create up to 125,000 high quality apprenticeships over the next parliament, the party said.

Labour leader Ed Miliband also pledged to increase the minimum wage to help with the cost of living.

He was speaking ahead of the start of the Labour Party conference in Brighton.

The apprenticeship scheme would affect foreign nationals brought in under Tier 2 of the points-based immigration system - those offered a skilled job to fill a gap in the workforce that cannot be filled by a settled worker.

Labour said its research had found that many recently created apprenticeships have been for low-quality courses, and demanded that the number of high-quality apprenticeships be doubled.

'Brutish economy'

Speaking to the Sunday Mirror, Mr Miliband said: "I want a high-wage British economy, not a low-wage brutish economy, and we've got plans to make that happen to drive up skills.

"So we're going to say to any firm who wants to bring in a foreign worker that they also have to train up someone who's a local worker, training up the next generation.

"We think that can create up to 125,000 new apprenticeships over the course of five years. And that is a massive boost in skills for our young people and that is really important."

But business lobbying group the CBI warned that Labour's plan could lead to more red tape.

Neil Carberry, CBI's director for education and skills, said: "We'd like to see more apprentices being taken on and agree that training through schemes such as apprenticeships are the long-term answer to skills shortages.

"However, we'd be concerned these proposals could add to red tape for firms.

"If we want to get more businesses offering more apprentices, it will be crucial to keep bureaucracy to a minimum and to make sure employers are in the driving seat when it comes to targeting funding."

Budget 'black hole'

On Saturday, Mr Miliband said Labour would increase fines for employers who deliberately broke minimum wage laws from £5,000 to a maximum of £50,000.

He told a crowd in Brighton that the national minimum wage was "one of the proudest achievements of the last Labour government" but it was falling behind price rises under the coalition government. He pledged to strengthen it.

If the national minimum wage had risen in line with the cost of living it would be 45p an hour higher than the current level, which is due to rise next month from £6.19 to £6.31, he said.

And he said the housing benefit cut - affecting social tenants in England, Scotland and Wales deemed to have spare bedrooms - would be scrapped.

Also in the Sunday Mirror, former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott wrote that Labour should use the conference to talk about "all the good things" it did in power and how it could repeat that success, rather than reaching out to the Liberal Democrats about a potential coalition.

It comes as Mr Miliband rejected the prospect of former spin doctor Damian McBride - whose new book is being serialised in the Daily Mail - of ever working for Labour again.

Mr McBride resigned in 2009 after he was caught planning to smear senior Conservatives.

Meanwhile, Conservative Justice Secretary Chris Grayling wrote in the Daily Telegraph that Labour and the Liberal Democrats wanted to "clobber the rich" with tax plans he says would "penalise wealth creators".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    Make it like university entry. Give even more debt to todays youth and a tidy sum to employers to take apprentices and we would probably see an increase in so called apprenticeships. Make apprentices pay for the privilege like students.
    Maybe there would be another boost to buiders in contructing more boxes for them to live in around towns as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    202. OrdinaryWorld
    “Apprenticeships should only be in engineering/manufacturing/science and 2-3years long”.

    4 to 5 years surely?
    2 Years; I hadn’t even completed half of my Technical Qualifications in 2 years.
    Let’s see a return to proper Apprenticeships & get rid of the cut down ones created by the last Government.
    Proper Training takes time & money I’m afraid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    I am in favour of investing in the country's future through apprenticeships. They debate should about what forms it should take, not about politicians.

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    And who is going to pay for this idea. More pressure on business. The only way things will get better is to rid the UK of the benefits culture. But then Labour would have no policies at all

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    We live in a short righted world. No Government party thinks ahead. Tax breaks should be given to companies taking on and training apprentices to a high standard and with recognisable qualifications in the world wide work place. Not everyone wants to go to university and many would benefit from apprenticeships. In the long term it would be cheaper than unemployment benefits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 223.

    Presumably the Government would pay for each new apprentice.
    Because if we increase the costs of hiring the skilled workers needed to keep manufacturing in the UK, the result will be more imports and more closed UK factories.

  • rate this

    Comment number 222.

    Just shows what the leader of the LABOUR party thinks. We should train our owm skilled workforce so that future british people will always have work, not bring in foreigh skilled workers . incidenltly no mention from him on how to stop EU immigration, door still wide open there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 221.

    The idea is a good one but it must be done properly. We need people who can bash metal into something useful not people who spend their time dreaming up "concepts". We need to start making stuff again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    Mr Ed has not said that these will be apprenticeships reserved for British born applicants (which would probably be illegal under EU law). He has only said "local workers", which is a typically vague term so loved by politicians. We could well have 125,000 people from non EU countries creating 125,000 apprenticeships filled by Poles and Latvians etc! Good plan Ed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 219.

    Yet again. Big on headlines and poor on detail. How are the relevant companies to be determined (revenue, profit etc). How are you going to determine and monitor the non EU labour force and what are the unintended consequences? How will this be enforced and what cost to industry/additional red tape.Question is; why do companies have to employ from abroad? Usual commercial ineptitude from Labour.

  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    Poor people have always migrated away from poverty towards the manna richer areas can provide.

    It's been going on since the first Human realised the Kalahari desert wasn't as marvelous as Cleethorpes.

    Labour have changed the face of Britain to suit their narrow goal of Power.

    We need to address an Amnesty for the roughly 1 million illegal workers already here so they can contribute taxes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 217.

    Isn't it time we made these pre-election promises & manifestos legally binding?

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

    "Conservative Justice Secretary Chris Grayling wrote in the Daily Telegraph that Labour and the Liberal Democrats wanted to clobber the rich" with tax plans he says would "penalise wealth creators".

    "Squeeze practically any Tory, any Blairite, and any Lib Dem of the Orange Book persuasion, and it's the same poisonous Thatcherite pus that comes oozing out of all of them." - Iain M Banks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    I work as an apprentice and the wage is terrible but for my career path experience is more relevant than education. I've been told of apprentices who are over 21 who after a year are sacked or let go because there wage is due to increase to minimum wage and companies can just hire a replacement apprentice on lower wage, apprenticeships are good but the system around them needs to be improved.

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    Making it even harder for employers to employ people. Yes that will help.

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    @199. Tim

    Don't know about you appretership or where you work chum but it looks like you made some bad job choices, our apprentises have good conditions and pay, can rise high in the company and are well respected if they choose to look to another employer

  • rate this

    Comment number 212.

    And is he going to bring back the steelworks, the shipyards, the coal mines, the car factories etc.?

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

    Gordon Brown's master stroke was to move the Bank of England outside of the control of short term politics.
    If Miliband is serious about the UK workforce, he should do the same with Education. A body made up of employers, voluntary sector and educationalist would construct a 10 year plan, ensuring that the system produces kids with the skills sets to benefit UK plc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 210.

    I don't have a problem with this. It is used in other countries very successfully. For instance if I wanted to employ a foreign national in Indonesia in my business I am required to take on an Indonesian national in order to train them to replace the foreign national at some point in the future. Businesses can not just keep importing staff from overseas when there is a need to employ people here

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    Having worked in the city for 20 years for an international company, they frequently employed overseas (Non-Eu) staff. They just said it was a job that couldn't be filled by a UK employee, this wasn't true but there seemed to be no checking involved. The the work permits etc just being issued. I never heard of a application being rejected, this an issue should be looked at.


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