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Labour propose apprentice link to ‘foreign’ employment

by on September 23, 2013

It’s political party conference season in the UK and Labour’s proposed policy for linking non-EU job offers to new ‘local’ apprenticeships received much coverage over the weekend although intriguingly initially given as an exclusive to the Sunday Mirror.

The initial reports covered the quote from Ed Milliband, who explained the broad policy: “So we are going to say to any firm that wants to bring in a foreign worker that they also have to train up someone who is 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 for skills for our young people.”

The term foreign worker has caused some confusion in terms of the EU legislation and “bringing in” would seem to apply to specific forms of recruitment.  Similarly the term ‘local’ prompted debate in terms of whether these could be restricted to ‘British’ applicants.

Indeed one of the few aspects of the statement not to come under significant scrutiny is that associated with age!  Current policies focus support for apprenticeships on the 16-24 age group though with some restrictions dependent on individual circumstances.  This said employers are able to offer apprenticeships for other age groups (for example BT specify only that you must be of the minimum school leaving age when you commence your apprenticeship) and there are provisions for 24+ advanced learner loans.  A key issue within this structure is the ‘level’ of training assumed such that the 24+ advance learner loans assumes that an individual is further along in their education and training in a particular occupation and will be studying at a ‘higher’ level than in the 16-24 apprenticeships.  How these issues will play out in the proposed labour policy is less than clear.


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