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 58.

    Companies used to take school leavers on as apprentices at 16, train them up over 5 years on the job with college day release and a job guaranteed at the end of it. Pay was poor (mine was £5 per week to start with) but you learned on the job and came out a fully qualified and experienced craftsman at the end of it in permanent employment and paid accordingly. It all went wrong somewhere.........

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    These days the term "apprenticeship" borders on the farcical, on enquiring of a grandson how was he getting on finding a job, he told me he was now an apprentice. "Great" said I, naively asking "what trade", he told me in all sincerity "litter picking" in a firm contracted to the local council and in 3 weeks he was already a Team Leader. I was lost for words.

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    In Doncaster over the past years these major manufacturing companies have closed who employed thousands:
    International Harvester - tractors
    ICI - chemicals
    Binghams - foundry
    Burtons - clothing
    Crompton Parkinson - electrical equipment
    Had these still existed they would have had apprentices. The work they did is now done overseas due to the short term outlook by the Government and employers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    I ran an engineering company 40 years ago.

    I took on apprentices and office workers who could write, add up and speak - but more importantly WANTED to succeed.

    Nowadays, one has to consider whether thay can do all the above and you can see their face.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    What they call Apprenticeships today are far from it, it is basic training in a certain "skill" set, I mean for chr... sake they call the Tea Boy an Apprentice!

    I served an Apprenticeship as a Engineer.
    5yrs Training 1 at eng School 4 on the shop floor.
    I worked with every trade.
    Drawing Office
    only then was I fit to be an Engineer


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