Could Labour plans to force companies to hire an apprentice for each non EU worker employed help industry?
Readers were sceptical over the Labour Party’s plans to require companies to hire an apprentice to balance every non-EU worker they employ. The largest group of respondents, 44 per cent, thought that, as the regulations wouldn’t apply to EU workers, they would have zero impact; but the next largest group, 39 per cent, though that it would help ensure that the UK maintains a domestic skills base. The smallest group, 16 per cent, were concerned that it would deter companies from recruiting overseas talent and have negative impact on a skills base reliant on foreign workers.
As we reported in The Engineer on 23 September, the new policy, brought forward at the Labour Conference last week, has faced criticism from industry. The Briish Chamber of Commerce said that a points-based immigration system, financial incentives to recruit apprentices, and greater emphasis on work skills in schools would have a better effect on the problems the policy is claimed to address.
The policy would require companies who employed a non-EU worker admitted under Tier 2 of the immigration system — to fulfil a skilled position that could not be performed by a worker already settled in the country — to train an apprentice up to an equivalent skills level. It is intended, according to Labour leader Ed Miliband, to increase the number of number of high-quality apprenticeships, as party research suggests that many current schemes are only at a low skills level. This, Miliband claims, would help Britain maintain a high-wage, highly-skilled economy.
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