Move to give young right to training

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THE Government is considering a plan to abandon its reliance on 'voluntarism' with a scheme to give all 16 to 18-year-old school leavers a right to vocational training, writes Barrie Clement.

At present employers who take on young people are under no obligation to provide courses leading to qualifications. The scheme, which has long been Labour Party policy, would force organisations to offer training or stop them recruiting under-18s. An announcement is expected before Christmas.

Teenagers who leave school for the dole already have to join the Youth Training programme or lose their unemployment benefit. Under YT, however, there is no nationally co-ordinated structure to give them skills. A scheme suggested by the 82-strong network of Training and Enterprise Councils in England and Wales and under consideration by the Department of Employment would involve the establishment of a 'New Apprenticeship' system.

Employment Secretary David Hunt is known to support the idea.

The Cabinet might have some difficulty in backing the policy, however, because it marks a critical break with the principle of 'voluntarism' where employers were encouraged to train but not forced to.