Much has been made of Labour’s plans for employers to be forced to offer a new apprenticeship to a local person for every foreign worker that they bring into the country.
Michael Gove has called the plans ‘a shambles’, The Daily Mail says the policy ‘is in chaos’ and The Telegraph says ‘the flagship plan to reduce immigration would actually allow more foreign workers to come to Britain.’
Now, I’m never in favour of ill thought out immigration policies designed simply to appease Daily Mail readers (who can forget Gordon Brown’s ‘British jobs for British workers’) but the criticism aimed at this policy is as flawed as the critics suggest the plan is.
If we look at The Telegraph first, the use of words ‘allow more foreign workers to come’ would suggest that by advertising an apprenticeship (which is open to all EEA citizens) a higher number of immigrants would be allowed in the UK than they are now. What it actually means is that EEA citizens would be able to apply for the position in the same way that a UK citizen is able to. This is already the case for any job or apprenticeship vacancy.
If we are to believe that this is a bad idea which will encourage thousands more immigrants from across Europe to flock to Britain then surely we should also be against any plans that would create new jobs, since all vacancies have to be open to EEA citizens.
Of course, that is ridiculous, nobody in their right mind is anti-jobs.
The article in The Daily Mail says that ‘the policy to force firms to take on British apprentices unravelled within hours as it emerged the jobs will be open to anyone within the EU.’ I haven’t read anywhere that Labour stipulated that the apprenticeships would only be open to British people, they used the term ‘local people’ not British.
It has also been reported that business groups are not happy about the proposals. But didn’t similar business groups also oppose the minimum wage, longer maternity leave and in fact any new laws that would mean a better deal for employees?
The truth is that, the UK has record levels of youth unemployment and a policy which could create up to 100,000 new apprenticeships has to be a good thing.