Labour has become synonymous with relaxed approaches to UK work permits and immigration policies but leader Ed Miliband has implied that the party could make a u-turn its previous proposals.
Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr show, the leader explained that reducing non-European Union immigration levels would be a key priority for the party if it were to take power in the next election.
He put forward suggestions to cut the number of low-skilled migrants such as forcing larger firms to train local apprentices if they wanted to recruit workers from outside the EU, and focusing on reducing exploitation of foreign workers.
Mr Miliband said: “In our first year in office we will legislate for an immigration bill which has secure control for our borders, cracks down on exploitation of workers coming here undercutting workers already here, and says to big companies that bring in people from outside the EU that they can do that, within a cap, but they have got to train the next generation.”
The apprentice suggestion would specifically affect the Tier 2 work permit scheme – with a focus on skilled positions.
Mr Miliband announced the plans at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton, along with plans to freeze energy prices and boost the economy.
While some of the party leader's plans were welcomed, the immigration plans have already been criticised. The CBI warmed that the idea could easily lead to more red tape for businesses, while the British Chambers of Commerce suggested that it was an “apprentice tax” on employers that would neither curb immigration levels nor help young people find employment.