Headlines: February 23rd, 2009

Plans to ensure companies working on the Government’s school rebuilding programme take on apprentices will be unveiled in Parliament today. Meanwhile the Skills Secretary, John Denham, has said the public sector needs to do more to create apprenticeships.

In a Sunday newspaper article the Children’s Secretary, Ed Balls, said there would be a duty on every firm winning a contract in the Building Schools for the Future programme to show it had a formal training programme. The proposals will be made formally today when MPs debate the second reading of the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill. “We’re bringing forward spending on school buildings this year because it’s essential to support local businesses and construction jobs through the recession,” Mr. Balls wrote.

Meanwhile the Skills Secretary John Denham said it was time for the public sector to take more responsibility for the creation of new apprenticeships. He said, “The public sector has never provided as many apprenticeships as the private sector. Now they need to take the lead. Now the public sector, which is where public money is going in and where the Government’s investing, needs to create places.”

Last week the Local Government Association warned that the recession could create a ‘lost generation’ of young people who would fall into long-term unemployment. It called on the Government to devolve some of the billion pound fund for training and employment schemes to councils to ensure people who were made redundant could get the right training.

One local authority has already unveiled its own plans to help unemployed people. Harrow Council is launching a mobile job service under which officers will take details of job vacancies to the homes of people looking for work. The system will target people who are on Jobcentre lists but the authority will also offer advice to other local people who are looking for work.