From education to employment

Labour unveils apprentice for each foreign worker plan

The Labour Party has announced plans to force companies to train a British apprentice every time they apply for a visa for a non-European Union worker.

The proposals are designed to create up to 125,000 new apprentices over the next parliament.

Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna said the scheme shows Labour has learnt from its mistakes on immigration.

However, the move was blasted by business groups over concerns that it could create a bureaucratic nightmare.

John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, called it an “apprentice tax” on employers and job creation.

“It serves neither to control immigration, where we should have a points system linked more strongly to economic benefit, nor young people, who should be encouraged and properly supported rather than being used to control immigration by other means,” he said.

“Businesses need to be able to choose the talents and resource they need, and sometimes cannot find in the UK. This immigration benefits Britain. Penalising good companies by making the grant of a work permit conditional on taking on a UK apprentice just raises business costs and new red tape.

“There are far better ways to support employers to take on and train our young people. Let’s talk about the need for work skills in our schools, and incentives for companies taking on apprentices. And let’s talk about a proper points-based system to control levels of migration while ensuring we get the top-level skills we need to be competitive.”

Natalie Thorrnill

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