The battle over apprenticeships


The battle over apprenticeships

Last week Ed Milliband promised jobs for young people if they win the next election, paid for by a banker’s bonus tax. A rob from the rich and give to the poor philosophy. Alternatively, the Conservatives responded this week by claiming they will add additional caps on benefits to fund three million apprenticeships should they be victorious next year. The aim, according to the David Cameron – is to ‘abolish’ youth unemployment by cauterising young people’s dependency on the state.

To fund this initiative, a conservative government would reduce the maximum benefits a household can claim a year from £26,000 to £23,000. Money saved would be channelled into the creation of 3 million apprenticeships over five years. The plans would particularly affect unemployed 18-21 year olds, who would be given a maximum of six months to find either work or face having their benefits cut. Alternatively for those genuinely unable to find work, opportunities to participate in community projects – such as clearing up public spaces – would be made available. Participants on these projects will be entitled to a ‘youth allowance’ of £57.35 per week.

In addition to stopping job seekers allowance for unemployed 18-21 year olds, the plans also include a cessation of housing benefits for young people. Rather than any leniency, the proposals put forward by the Conservatives seek to eliminate choice for young people. There will be only one way: work. Dependency on the state will no longer be an option.

For employers, the hope is that the drive to get young people into work – particularly skilled young people up to apprentice level – will offer a major boost to workforce productivity, as well as ease the loss of skills as experienced workers retire.