Party pledges training place for all who meet minimum learning level

Ed Miliband has unveiled proposals to guarantee an apprenticeship to all young people who can meet a minimum entry requirement if Labour wins back power in May’s general election.

The Labour leader outlined the plan off the back of new policy document A Better Plan for Britain’s Prosperity.

It contains a commitment to create 100,000 new apprenticeships over the course of the next Parliament, and introduce a “gold standard” technical baccalaureate for 16-18 year olds to ensure that more young people are “apprenticeship ready” when they leave school.

The party said that 80,000 of the new apprenticeships would be targeted at school-leavers with “good grades” and that the policy would require firms winning major government contracts to offer apprenticeships, and may be expanded to cover large projects underwritten by the government.

In particular, it said firms bidding for the £100m of planned infrastructure projects scheduled for delivery during the next Parliament would be expected to provide some of the places.

Labour said its plan could result in 33,000 apprentices being taken on on HS2 alone.

Miliband said just over one in 10 English employers currently offered apprenticeships, which represented six times fewer high-quality apprenticeships than were on offer in Germany.

“We can do better, and with our plan we will,” he said.

“It is time to match the aspirations of our young people with the high quality apprenticeships they deserve.

“So under the next Labour government, if you get the grades at 18 you will be guaranteed an apprenticeship. That is what I mean by a better plan for working people, a better plan for Britain.”

Labour’s policy document also proposed raising the minimum wage to £8 per hour by 2020 and introducing tax breaks for employers who paid higher-set living wages.

It also questioned the UK’s construciton industry’s level of commitment to developing workers skills, .

It cited UK bricklayers as an example of a job type with “no formal skills training”, and where domestic skills levels compared poorly to those in mainland Europe as part of the case for investing in better training.

Labour said academic research had shown that “bricklayers in countries such as Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands were expected to develop and utilise broad skills in carpentry and civil engineering, to work with a wide range of materials, to set up and manage construction sites, and to work both collaboratively and independently” resulting in a broader knowledge base and higher wages than in the UK.

The study it cited was Bricklaying is more than Flemish Bond, edited by Michaela Brockmann, Linda Clarke, and Christopher Winch.