Young British people are losing out to migrants in the jobs market because too few of them leave college with basic English and maths qualifications, David Cameron has said.
The Prime Minister was challenged at a question and answer session at Skanska, a construction company in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, over what the Government was doing to stop migrants from the European Union taking jobs from British workers.
Mr Cameron said that part of the problem was that too many young people were applying for jobs without basic qualifications in maths and English.
He had experienced the problem personally, because his eight-year-old son Elwen thought that footballers can earn fortunes with no qualifications.
He said: “During this parliament so far we have made 1.6 million apprentices. I want to get to two million apprenticeships by the end of this parliament. I did one of these things at Mercedes the other day and they said they were trying to take on 5,000 apprentices.
“I said 'how many people did you have apply’. They said 30,000. I said 'my God how did you decide how to get the apprentices’.
“And they said 'the trouble is, of the 30,000 that apply, not enough have the basic English and maths’.
“We have got to remind young people that English and maths are vocational subjects. I tell my children there is not a job in the world that does not require English and maths.
“My son says what about football players? I say well you have got to be able to read the contract and count the money. Everything requires English and maths.”
Mr Cameron continued: “And I think if you look back five or 10 years ago we had a real problem there in that when we did generate jobs, a lot of those jobs were going to people from overseas coming here, quite understandably, to do those jobs because we were not creating a skilled workforce here at home. I think we have made some big, big improvements.”
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “Ensuring young people leave school with the skills they need to get a good job, an apprenticeship or a place at university is a crucial part of our long-term economic plan.”