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There is over a £billion of extra government spending in that announcement. No wonder Cameron is ruling out tax cuts. He wants to spend more than Gordon Brown. I will not vote for that.

Good luck with the other lot.

"I will not vote for that"

But you'd be willing to vote for a strategy that would result in higher spending in the long term?

Wisconsin is a case in point-it's strategy actually cost more to start with. It takes several years for these things to filter through.

im having to type this in my left hand. so apologies for the poor punctuation. id just like to say that i welcome the initiatives outlined in support of real skills training.

this is in sharp contrast to the dead end approach of james purnell, who courts publicity by advocating work for dole, which incidently wont take one person off benefits, while at the same time purnell has nothing to offer to the young and the jobless by way of training.

skills training is an area in which the conservative party can clearly steal a march on the labour government. a future conservative government would do well to introduce an educational option for the long term/youth unemployed as an alternative to purnells dead end work for dole proposals. that is, those on jsa should be allowed to study a vocational course while claiming benefits, this would offer a gateway out of unemployment and would do more to build the character of the individuals involved than a punitive work for dole regime.

finally, on the matter of work for dole/workfare etc, i have nothing but support for any government that produces work for the long term unemployed, however that work should be fully waged with any work undertaken being paid at the going rate. if purnell drafts the jobless into work without paying the going rate for the hours worked then he will be in contravention of employment law and may well face a legal challenge.

there is an important principle at point here, namely, a fair days pay for a fairdays work. slightly off topic but unfortunately being injured has prevented me from holding purnell to account earlier in the week. in fact mr grayling should steal a march on purnell and offer to pay those drafted onto community work schemes the going rate of pay for the hours worked.

If you read the paper, you'll see this is paid for predominantly by refocusing existing govt spending.

This is not a new spending commitment.

Good stuff.

Apprenticeship schemes ran quite happily for generations until the government got involved in the 70s and 80s. When will politicians realise that businesses really don’t need their kind of help?

Boris Johnson has just announced the skills requirement for City Hall.

1. Have worked for Policy Exchange and/or
2. Be a Nick Boles crony.

That's it!

Oh great. Even more education quangos - just what the world needs. Why don't they put the money into building technical colleges and giving extra funding to pupils?

John Hayes is absolutely right, this Government has failed miserably on skills and training. The large number of young people not in employment, education or training is a national embrassment. No wonder hundreds of thousands of Eastern European construction workers have flooded into the UK when this Labour Government cannot be bothered to provide skills and training with the resources needed to deliver on this massive challenge. Well done John Hayes - he continues to be ahead of the game and has the vision to deliver the skills revolution this country and our economy is screaming out for - keep up the good work.

Tony Makara at 20.49:

"that is, those on jsa should be allowed to study a vocational course while claiming benefits".

Good to see you back, Tony; get well soon.

I am sure that Tony would agree that there are currently huge problems in certain parts of the country (Glascow East) where there is unemployment on a massive scale, parental indifference and low educational attainment.

Therefore there must be jobs for these young people to go into and this is something for John Hayes to feed into the debate.

Also I would contend that the 30+% of 11 year olds who can neither write, read or count properly will be for ever seriously disadvantaged if they go through secondary school without remedying this.

John Hayes wants to introduce Careers Advisers into schools; that is sensible but would it not be good if non-academic pupils were given a taste of vocational training while at school, so as better to understand the sort of jobs the Careers Adviser might suggest?

Finally, I believe very strongly that the social standing of vocational training must be improved. In France, people graduating from "les grandes ecoles" are regarded with the same degree of respect as that enjoyed by a university graduate and that should be the case in this country.

david belchamber, thank you for the good wishes. its difficult to debate just using my left hand so ill have to resort to short comments for now. the issue you raise about high concentrations of unemployment in certain areas is crucial. we need to do away with the old notion of dole and produce a community wage in which the long term unemployed are given waged work in the public sector. if we consider the money paid out in jsa, plus rent, plus council tax rebate it can amount to more than 150 a week, so surely it would make more sense for the state to hire the unemployed and pay them the going rate, thereby turning benefits into a proper wage. that way the state would be able to apply the manpower to social projects and such employment could be the stepping stone to employment proper, even including tiers of training.

to pay people to do nothing is madness. however it is unfair to have the jobless drafted onto workfare at anything less than the going rate of pay. so we need a new approach. we need to turn jsa into either a community wage and/or a training allowance. in that way the long term jobless will either be employed by the state or in paid skills renewal. in that way no one will be left behind.

workfare will not take a single person off benefit and is exploitative because it does not pay the going rate for any labour undertaken. so a new way has to be found.

Excellent proposals. This goes to show that David Cameron is taking Skills and learning seriously, and will be something we can heavily campaign on at the next General Election.

John Hayes is absolutely correct. Encouraging those into apprenticeships is something that the present government has failed miserably but at the same it is good to see John replicating the excellent work he did in his Housing portfolio into his position as Shadow Minister for Vocational Education.

Well done to John and the team.

The Conservative’s plan to focus resources on level-3 apprenticeships cut burdensome red tape, and offer SMEs a £2,000 bonus for employing an apprentice is exactly the approach needed for small businesses to develop apprenticeship schemes.

My small business has been put-off from being involved with the Train to Gain programme because too often it assesses skills already acquired without helping employees further develop their knowledge base.

John Hayes is showing, like he did with housing, that he is an invaluable asset to the front bench. It's about time he was promoted to the Shadow Cabinet.

" In France, people graduating from "les grandes ecoles" are regarded with the same degree of respect as that enjoyed by a university graduate and that should be the case in this country."

In France, les grandes ecoles are far more difficult to enter than universities and the graduates of these institutions are accorded higher status than those of universities.

The Ecole Polytechnique is roughly the equivalent of Cambridge and Imperial college and the Ecole Nationale d'Administration equates to Oxford or the LSE.

By the way, I am fed up with the false distinction between "academic" and "vocational". What is a medical doctor if not both? And professional engineers are surely “vocational” or but many of us have strings of O Levels, A levels and degrees far in advance of those achieved by teachers, lawyers, financial advisers, MPs etc.

The real distinction is between those who are more intelligent and/or able and those who are less so but, because of the distortions introduced by the City of London the rewards in Britain do not always reflect ability.

As someone who was on the New Deal program at A4e Edinburgh for 13-weeks in 2008 and, like most of the other claimants I knew, found the whole experience a complete waste of time. Typical new labour rubbish - 'one size fits all' mentality. At the end of the 13 weeks I emergerd even more depressed and more cynical than when I started the course - only to sign-on again. In fact there was a 62-year old man in my class who was one year off getting a company pension! Why on earth did the jobcentre refer him to the New Deal program in the first place. I don’t think many taxpayers fully realise just how many millions £ of public money is being wasted on the New Deal. And the Fexible New Deal (FND) which takes over lin October is supposed to address all the shortcomings of the old systems i.e. non-exitent training, overcrowding and lack of computers. Be interesting to see what really happens.

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