Shadow skills secretary says plans would create 100,000 apprenticeship places

A Conservative government would pay firms £2,000 for each apprentice that completes a scheme on their watch, the party has announced.

David Willetts, the shadow skills secretary, said that the Conservatives would propose a package creating 100,000 apprenticeship places.

Under the plans, small and medium-sized firms would be offered a £2,000 bonus for each apprentice that completes his or her scheme.

Willetts said: "Our recommendations are aimed at improving social mobility. Many of our social problems stem from the disengagement of young people and we want to provide more opportunities, particularly to young men, to get them off the streets and on their way in life."

The Conservatives said trade bodies would be given funding to help SMEs work together to offer training to apprentices, and a single funding stream would be created for all apprenticeships.

The Federation of Master Builders said the proposals would help improve the training record of an industry with 185,000 companies but only 8,500 apprentices.

Brian Berry, the FMB’s director of external affairs, said: “It is pleasing to see the Conservative Party is waking up to the skills shortage facing the industry. Their pledge to offer employers a £2,000 bonus for taking on and training apprentices is just the encouragement needed to start to redress the current desperate situation.”