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Labour would guarantee apprenticeships for every school leaver in England who “gets the grades” by 2020, Ed Miliband has said. The pledge comes as Mr Miliband set out his party’s business policies for the general election, he argued better training and higher wages were key to boosting productivity. Labour are talking about an extra 80,000 apprenticeships, with 33,000 to come from one project alone – the HS2 rail line. The party’s “guarantee” would only apply to young people who gain ‘”level 3 qualifications,” which are equivalent to having two A Levels.

Those with two A levels would also qualify but not those who only have GCSEs. Money will be devoted to apprenticeships from funds earmarked for Labour’s Jobs Guarantee for young people who are unemployed for a year, which will be funded by a bank bonus levy. Mr Miliband said: “It is time to match the aspirations of our young people with the high quality apprenticeships they deserve. So under the next Labour government, if you get the grades at 18 you will be guaranteed an apprenticeship. That is what I mean by a better plan for working people, a better plan for Britain.” John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Mr Miliband is right to focus on the importance of high quality apprenticeships, and collectively we can work harder to deliver more of them.

We also favour giving employers more control over funding, so that companies can train apprentices with the skills to suit their needs. For more information visit