Speaking this afternoon as part of his 'Budget for Growth', chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne claimed employees in the UK were lower skilled and lower qualified than their counterparts in France and Germany.
To remedy this, Osborne announced the creation of 12 vocational technical colleges this year, where students will be trained in work skills and have direct relationships with employers. It is planned that this number will grow to 24 by 2014.
In another move to reduce youth unemployment, the chancellor announced plans to increase the number of apprentices. According to the chancellor's figures, only one in 10 employers in the UK offers apprenticeships, compared to one in four in Austria. In a bid to help young people into employment, Osborne announced an investment of £40 million to fund apprenticeships.
The chancellor said he hopes to create 100,000 apprenticeships over the next 10 years to "secure jobs and more growth".
The Association of Learning Providers says that the challenge is to ensure that a good proportion of the extra places go to young people as well as to converting members of the existing adult workforce into apprentices. ALP has therefore been pressing ministers since the coalition government entered office for adequate pre-apprenticeship provision to be in place to help school-leavers who aren't eligible to start full apprenticeships.
Paul Warner, ALP's director of employment and skills, said: "The Government has definitely been on the right track in ensuring that apprentices are in a proper job with a decent wage. We need though to find places with employers for this summer's school leavers who want apprenticeships or at least get them on the ladder to full apprenticeships in new access programmes around the country."