8 January 2009 | Paul Snell
Public sector buyers must make it a contractual obligation for suppliers to provide places for apprentices and skills training, according to Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
He said the government will spend £140 million to fund 35,000 new apprentice roles to make the UK more competitive and tackle its economic problems. The trainee posts will be created in the public and private sectors.
The government said it would use its large procurement spend to ensure all public sector contracts contain requirements for vendors to provide skills training and apprenticeships.
The extra money will be made available in April, at the start of the next financial year, but a spokesman for the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills said the provision in contracts could be put in place immediately.
The money is in addition to the £1 billion the government already plans to spend on apprentices over the next 12 months, to meet its 2013 target of enabling anyone who wishes to take up an apprenticeship to do so.
A report into the government's apprenticeships' strategy, published in January 2008, said there was "little systematic effort to encourage companies running large government contracts" to implement and provide apprenticeship schemes.
The announcement was made on the Prime Minister's visit to Derby-based Rolls-Royce, which plans to hire 50 extra apprentices, in addition to the 170 it already plans to take on. The recruits will be trained for local suppliers to the company.