The call by Tory ministers to employ and train young British workers, while taking no legislative action, exceeds their usual hypocrisy. It was the Thatcher Tory government which abolished the training levy on firms, resulting in the virtual destruction of a successful apprenticeship system.
The training levy also dealt with a major disincentive for firms to train. Those who did not invest in training could poach skilled workers from firms who had. The levy meant all firms in the industry paid for training and then recovered some of the costs if they set up an approved training scheme. At the time the trades unions had a large input into these schemes, ensuring high standards of skills and proper regulation in areas like health and safety. While the system was mainly used in the engineering industry such principles could be applied in all industries.
Trade Unions and the community owe the youth and unemployed a campaign for real action on training. A scheme similar to the old training levy would be a start. Instead of ‘Zero Hours Contracts’ let’s have proper jobs and training. We will then have a real and productive economy.