210,000 apprenticeships? From where?

Gordon Brown published his draft legislative programme yesterday. Known as the Draft Queen’s Speech, it is a preview of what the Queen will say in November when she gives a summary of what the government will do the following year. With me so far?

Anyway, in this speech was the promise to create 210,000 apprenticeships by 2011. Gordon has promised a statutory right to an apprenticeship for “every every suitably qualified young person”.

That sounds like a lot but, in a speech in January, Gordon claimed that there are now 180,000 new apprenticeships each year. If this figure is correct, his target will therefore require around a sixteen percent increase, which doesn’t sound like a huge stretch.

Even so, a statutory right to an apprenticeship? What if the economy does take a nosedive? The first thing to be cut back will be training schemes. What will happen if there just aren’t enough employers willing to offer these apprenticeships? Will they be forced to do so or will the government then have to create new public sector jobs just to fulfil its promise? I get very nervous when governments start awarding statutory right to things which are so dependent on a strong economy.

That said, it will probably never happen because the electorate will almost certainly do an Alan Sugar on the Prime Minister before then. Like Siralan’s hapless wannabe apprentices, it will be a case of “Gordon, I’m sick of the sight of yer. You’re Fired!”

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