Prime minister Gordon Brown today announced several measures to improve the skills base of the UK workforce in an attempt to “master the forces” of globalisation.
Speaking at the Trades Union Congress in Brighton, Brown outlined new plans to fast track lone parents into employment.
This will see all lone parents being guaranteed a job interview and on-site discussions with prospective employers. Plus, all lone parents will be entitled to six weeks of benefits during a work trial, a £400 training allowance and an extra £40 each week – £60 in London – for the first year of employment.
Additionally, Brown intends to give parents of young children and carers the rights to seek flexible working hours.
Other measures include a new requirement that all immigrants, who are seeking skilled work, to learn English. This could be extended to less skilled employees, Brown added.
The prime minister has also signed up 64 UK companies to create up to 250,000 new jobs for unemployed or inactive people by 2010. The companies will also provide training.
The government has guaranteed places at colleges or on pre-apprenticeship courses for all teenagers aged 16 and over who are out of work. A new country-wide service will be set up to match apprentices who need training with companies and organisations. Brown added that the government was ready to work with the public sector to set up apprenticeships in local government, the NHS and the civil service.
He urged trade unions to embrace the “new global economic age” by changing their role to ensure workers were armed with the relevant skills. This would give people the bargaining power to demand higher wages and prepare for “the biggest transformation in employment our economy has seen for a hundred years”.
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