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Labour announces its 'apprentice for every foreign worker' proposal

The Labour Party has outlined new proposals to boost the number of apprenticeships on offer in the UK as part of a series of measures that are already being described as “controversial”.

Labour leader Ed Miliband confirmed that it planned to make big companies located across the country take on and train up a new apprentice for every skilled worker that they recruited from outside of the European Union (EU).

The plans would see up to 125,000 new, high quality apprenticeships created in the UK over the course of the next parliament. Another proposed change was the increasing of the minimum wage to make dealing with the cost of living a little easier, the Labour leader said.

Mr Miliband said at the party conference: "I want a high-wage British economy, not a low-wage brutish economy, and we've got plans to make that happen to drive up skills. So we're going to say to any firm who wants to bring in a foreign worker that they also have to train up someone who's a local worker, training up the next generation.

"We think that can create up to 125,000 new apprenticeships over the course of five years. And that is a massive boost in skills for our young people and that is really important,” he added.

The apprenticeship scheme would be linked to foreign nationals who had been brought into the UK under Tier 2 of the points-based immigration system. These workers are those that have been offered a skilled job in order to fill a gap in the workforce that is not able to be filled by a UK-based worker.

However, Neil Carberry, CBI's director for education and skills, told the news source: "We'd like to see more apprentices being taken on and agree that training through schemes such as apprenticeships are the long-term answer to skills shortages. However, we'd be concerned these proposals could add to red tape for firms.

"If we want to get more businesses offering more apprentices, it will be crucial to keep bureaucracy to a minimum and to make sure employers are in the driving seat when it comes to targeting funding,” he said.

The Labour Party confirmed that its focus would be on creating high-quality apprenticeships, following recent research which found that many newly created apprenticeships have been for low-quality courses.