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Labour’s ‘jobs for contracts’ scheme

Lucrative public sector contracts would only be given to companies that employ apprentices under an idea proposed by Labour.

The party is calling for the private sector to provide more training opportunities for young people. The campaign will demand that the Government gives public sector contracts only to companies with apprenticeship schemes in place – although ministers have suggested that such a scheme could be illegal.

The ‘jobs for contracts’ idea will be launched as part of the ‘Britain’s Lost Talent’ campaign, and could provide around 20,000 places to help alleviate youth unemployment.

Shadow Business Secretary John Denham will argue later today (Thursday) that since the Government is the largest contractor in the UK, the £220bn annually spent by the public sector could be used as leverage to increase training and apprenticeships.

Denham said: “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.”

Skills Minister John Hayes warned that small companies would not have the resources to train many apprentices, telling the Financial Times: “I have looked into the issue of procurement, but to create an obligation would very likely fall foul of competition law and European law.”

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