Employers have a “moral imperative” to train young British people rather than recruiting staff from abroad, the head of the schools watchdog said today.
Sir Michael Wilshaw challenged businesses to set up apprenticeships and contact local schools to tell students about jobs rather than being “tempted” by employing foreign workers.
In a direct appeal to businesses at a CBI conference in Cambridge today, the head of Ofsted said instead of “bemoaning” the lack of qualified youngsters, businesses must help train up the next generation of workers.
He said: “I appreciate that if you are facing skills shortages it’s tempting to recruit from abroad. But surely employers have a moral and long-term economic imperative to train people here? Couldn’t you do more?
”It comes after the company behind a major sandwich factory said it had to go abroad to find new employees. Greencore Group said most of the 300 new staff at its Northampton factory would be recruited from Hungary because local people did not want the jobs.
Sir Michael said businesses had a duty to tell young people about job opportunities. He said: “How much do you do to make young people in schools aware of all the different types of work in your company? Have you made a sustained effort to engage with schools and colleges and let them know what opportunities you offer?
“And finally what would it take to turn a job vacancy into an apprenticeship? It’s easy to bemoan the lack of qualified youngsters, but what are you doing imaginatively to help solve that problem?
”Sir Michael spoke of the need to reform vocational education so it is no longer seen as a “consolation prize” for those who cannot do anything else.
Apprenticeships must be held in the same esteem as A-levels and “sold aggressively” to young people, he said. He added: “We are at a watershed moment in the history of our education system.
The economy is improving, jobs are more plentiful, and there is cross-party agreement on the need for more high-quality apprenticeships.
“We therefore have never had a better opportunity to tackle our lamentable record in vocational education if we seize the moment and if employers play their part.
”As part of the Evening Standard’s Ladder for London campaign, more than 500 companies have pledged to create more than 1,400 apprenticeships.