Miliband's pledge on British apprentices fails to win Tory support
ED MILIBAND'S tough pledge on immigration found little support from Conservatives in Gloucestershire yesterday.
Ahead of the start of his party's conference in Brighton, the Labour leader said he hoped to force big firms to train a British apprentice for each worker they hired from outside the European Union.
His stance would take effect if Labour won the next General Election.
It would apply to all firms with 50 or more staff and it would then be coupled with plans to up the minimum wage.
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Gloucester MP Richard Graham said: "It's yet another muddled idea from a muddled man. There is no way, under EU law, you can pre-determine that a new apprentice needs to be a UK citizen. It's a bodged idea from the beginning."
The Conservative MP said about half a million new apprenticeships had been created in Britain in the last three years.
He said he would have expected Mr Miliband to use that success to suggest that firms be given further incentives to take on apprentices – rather than being forced to do so.
He added: "Can you imagine how policing of this would work?"
Not impressed with the current Labour leaders's comments, he compared them to those once made by a previous leader of the party – former prime minister Gordon Brown. He said: "It's like Gordon Brown's 'British jobs for British workers'.
"There are some genuine people in the Labour party who are interested in apprenticeships but he (Mr Miliband) is going about it the wrong way."
Labour's policy would create up to 125,000 high-quality apprenticeships over the next Parliament, the party said.
The scheme would affect foreign nationals brought in under Tier 2 of the points-based immigration system – those offered a skilled job to fill a gap in the workforce that cannot be filled by a settled worker.
Tewkesbury Borough Council's leader, Councillor Robert Vines (C, Badgeworth) said increasing the number of apprenticeships in Britain would be a good thing and his authority was proud of the fact that it had taken on a number of apprentices in recent years.
But he was uncertain about the wisdom of Mr Miliband's proposal.
He said: "Whether it's right to handcuff apprenticeships specifically to something else, I don't know."