PRESSURE is mounting on Ministers to back a North East MP’s campaign to boost the number of apprentices.
Newcastle North’s Catherine McKinnell has put forward proposals in Parliament that would require companies winning large public contracts to provide apprenticeships as part of their bids.
The plan has already been adopted by the Labour party, but has now won support from Conservative MP Robert Halfon.
Mr Halfon, who represents Harlow in Essex, urged the Government to implement Mrs McKinnell’s proposals during a Commons debate discussing opportunities for young people.
She told other MPs that the Government’s approach to apprenticeships was a “PR job” and claimed they did not have much substance.
He said: “Having met a number of apprentices from across Newcastle who work in catering, construction and as motor technician apprentices, I have seen how beneficial they can be to businesses.
“I have a business apprentice in my constituency office in Lemington, who just turned 18 last week and who is genuinely invaluable to my office.
“I encourage all honorable members to take on an apprentice in their office and lead the way,” she said.
The Labour MP said that while she was delighted Labour had adopted her proposals as party policy, the MP claimed she had only received “warm words” from Skills Minister John Hayes and opposition from Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude.
That was despite widespread support from businesses, education institutions, unions and Lord Sugar.
“We simply cannot take the risk of creating another lost generation of young people. We have the tools to make a difference and we have the spending power of public procurement – let us use them,” said Mrs McKinnell.
Mr Halfon said: “I urge the Government to implement that proposal, not just nationally but in local councils. I have called for that repeatedly, and I have discussed it with members of Essex council, which is taking a serious look at it.”
Business Minister Ed Davey insisted the coalition was taking action with 100,000 new apprentices already created within its first year in office.
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