As election fever bubbles to the boil in the United Kingdom, Employment Minister Tessa Jowell has announced that the Labour Party is to gear its flagship New Deal jobs programme to tackle the shortage of workers in the gas, financial and construction industries.
The New Deal programme, launched in 1997, is claimed by the government to have helped 250,000 young people find work.
Speaking of the Labour Party plans, Tessa Jowell said, "the New Deal, which has been so successful in almost ending long-term youth unemployment, will now provide solutions to some of the country's skills shortages."
The Minister claimed that tens of thousands of recruits will be needed in the gas, construction and financial service industries including 15,000 gas fitters and 74,000 workers in the construction industry. Special industry audits will be conducted to ensure that people on the scheme have the skills that employers need. It is intended that jobless people will fill some of the vacancies.
General Secretary of the TUC, John Monks, said that the initiative was an imaginative development of the New Deal programme.
Plans by the Conservative Party to replace the New Deal with a program called "Britain works" were attacked by Ms Jowell, who said that the figures for savings were invented.