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A plan to sharply increase the number of high-skilled apprenticeships in the UK was unveiled by Labour today.

John Denham MP, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, said any company wanting to provide goods or services to the public sector should be required to have an apprenticeship scheme before they can win a contract.

The Tory-led Government has dropped Labour’s guarantee of an apprenticeship place to young people who want one and has failed to expand apprenticeship places for school and college leavers.

But Labour’s jobs-for-contracts scheme would increase the number of apprenticeships by thousands and give immediate help to many of the one million unemployed under-25s.

The plan is to be launched as Labour’s "Britain's Lost Talent" campaign.

With one-in-five young people out of work, young people need every chance to improve the skills they need to get good jobs.

This simple idea – creating apprenticeship places through public procurement – would provide immediate help to alleviate this problem and give much needed opportunities for young people.

John Denham said:

“At a time when record numbers of young people are out of work and facing a challenging future, the Tory-led Government should be doing everything it can to support opportunities, helping young people to improve their skills and get good jobs. It could take immediate action by supporting the creation of thousands of apprenticeships in companies that provide services to government including construction projects.

“But the Tory-led Government has abandoned Labour’s commitment to apprenticeship places through procurement. And it has abandoned Labour’s commitment that every young person who wants an apprenticeship place can get one.

“We want to support the talents of our young people and give them hope and opportunities. We want the next generation to have the chance to do better than the one that has gone before.

“It is time for this Government to act and not leave the next generation behind.”

The Government spends £220 billion a year on goods and services from the private sector.  From construction to business support services, the Government is the top single contractor in the UK. This means that the Government has a unique tool at its disposal to get young people into work.

Labour is calling on the Government to adopt the following temporary measures to help grow our economy and expand opportunities for young people:

  • Reverse its decision to abandon apprenticeships in Government procurement and instead do everything it can to create new apprenticeships while the economic recovery remains fragile and youth unemployment is high.
  • Keep in place Labour’s amendments to the Energy Bill to secure apprenticeships through the Green Deal.

Taken with Labour’s plan to repeat the bank bonus tax and use the funds to provide jobs and apprenticeships for young people, as well as a temporary reversal of the VAT rise, these measures would help kickstart our economy and provide the growth and jobs that we so urgently need.

We are asking members of the public to join us and demand more opportunities for young people by signing up here.

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