Can Labour’s Apprenticeship Plan Boost The Domestic Skills Base?

Ed Miliband has garnered lots of media attention with his plan to promote high-qualityATG_EdMiliband1_081013 apprenticeships and help the UK maintain its skills base. At the recent Labour Party conference, the party leader outlined a policy under which UK employers would be required to take on an apprentice for every non-EU worker joining their staff. Last week, The Engineer published the findings of its reader poll on Labour’s plan, revealing a mixed attitude towards the idea.

Miliband’s policy envisions the recruitment of an apprentice for every Tier 2 non-EU immigrant employed by a UK company. These are foreigners admitted into the country because of their highly valuable skills. By providing an apprentice with equivalent skills, UK employers would ensure the availability of highly skilled workers for the UK economy, Miliband claims.

So how do readers of The Engineer feel about this balancing act? According to 44% of them, the policy would have no impact because it would only apply to non-EU workers, while 39% expressed the belief that it would have a positive effect on the domestic skills base. For 16% of the sample, the plan raises concerns that local employers would be put off recruiting foreign talent, thus negatively affecting a skills base that relies on overseas workers.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is among the industry organisations that believe there are better ways of promoting apprenticeships and helping the UK nurture its future talent. According to the BCC, better results would be achieved by offering apprentice employers financial incentives and urging schools to give greater attention to work skills, The Engineer said.

Spokesman for  a provider of Apprenticeships, ATG Training commenting said ‘Policy matters have major impacts on the training market and any proposed changes need to be fully debated, with industry SME’s having a key role in the future economic output of Great Britain PLC’.

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