Ed Miliband
Ed Miliband hows vowed to create 80,000 more apprenticeshipsGetty

A Labour government will guarantee 18-year-olds an apprenticeship if they achieve the right grades, Ed Miliband has announced.

In a speech at the Jaguar Land Rover Wolverhampton plant to outline his business credentials, Miliband said the UK lagged behind countries like Germany when it came to apprenticeships.

The plan would add 80,000 apprentices to the UK workforce and Miliband argued that better training would help build a strong economy.

"At the moment just one in 10 employers in England offers an apprenticeship. There are six times fewer high quality apprenticeships than in Germany," the Labour leader said.

"There has been lots of debate about tax avoidance in the last few weeks. Nothing more symbolises the current government's failing plan than seeing the tax gap - between what should be paid and the revenue received – widening, while the number of apprenticeships available for young people is falling.

"We can do better. And with our plan we will."

The plan would apply only to students who achieved "level 3 qualifications", which are equivalent to having two A Levels, and would be funded by the private sector.

The announcement is a response to the Conservative's pledge to fund three million apprenticeships by capping benefits.

Miliband also used his speech to affirm his commitment to cutting and freezing business rates, remaining in the European Union and the creation of a British Investment Bank to support new regional banks.