The Apprenticeships and Skills (Public Procurement Contracts) Bill would make training a compulsory part of winning public sector contracts, including construction.
It requires “certain public procurement contracts let by public authorities to include a commitment by the contractor to provide apprenticeships and skills training”.
Introduced by Labour's Newcastle North MP Catherine McKinnell under the 10-minute rule, the bill will have a second reading on February 11.
McKinnell told Construction News: “Due to its simplicity, it’s an idea that has won the backing of everybody I have spoken to across the business community, as well as support from all parties, including the skills minister John Hayes.
“We need to build up apprenticeships once again within the construction industry and the wider business community to make them a valuable and viable option and a prized qualification for young people once more.”
The former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy is among 74 MPs from five different parties to sign an Early Day Motion backing the bill.
Business representatives including Lord Sugar, the Federation of Small Businesses and various trade unions have also pledged support.
However, the bill’s success may depend on parliamentary scheduling, as three government bills are due to be discussed the same day.
It will only be heard if there is time afterwards, but McKinnell said she was hopeful the bill would be adopted by government if it fell foul of the schedule.
According to research from CITB-ConstructionSkills published last month, a quarter of construction businesses in the UK reduced their training activity in 2010, with 18 per cent planning to scale back training even further in 2011.
Dan Maher, partnership and business development director at Kier Building Maintenance, said he was “totally in tune” with the bill, although he added it was important to make sure the contracts were long enough to support meaningful training.
But Stephen Ratcliffe, director of the UK Contractors' Group, said that it was untrue to suggest that large contractors were passing the buck on training, and that UKCG members employ roughly one third of construction apprentices.