ED MILIBAND has pledged to be a “champion” for engineering and manufacturing if he becomes Prime Minister after the General Election.
Wooing business figures at the EEF conference, the Labour leader warned they may not always agree with what him, but he insisted they would always have “a voice”, adding: “Our future depends on you”.
Mr Miliband set out a range of policies to help business and improve young people’s prospects, including competitive tax rates, more apprenticeships, vocational and technical education.
“Our plan to extend prosperity to all starts where it has to: with our young people,” he said.
“To build the economy we need in the 21st century we need all of our young people to be developing the skills necessary to compete in the world.”
Mr Miliband said he wanted to give businesses more control over funding, as well as asking companies who win government contracts and those recruiting from outside the EU to take on apprentices.
Mr Miliband also stressed his desire to stay in the EU, in contrast to the Tories’ commitment to a referendum.
“There is no greater threat to the long-term stability and prosperity of Britain and British business than leaving the European Union,” he said.
“That is why it is so wrong to play fast and loose with our membership of the European Union.”
Terry Scuoler, chief executive of the EEF, said: “Ed Miliband’s clear support for manufacturing and engineering and its critical requirement for skills and innovation are welcome. If Labour is in power later this year they must seek to build on what’s worked well in the last few years, including sector industrial strategies, support for innovation and competitive business taxes.”
Mr Miliband defended his plan to freeze energy prices, adding that issues such as skills funding should be devolved from Whitehall.