Unless you’ve been living without an internet connection since the end of October you’ll be well aware that we’re headed for a General Election. As it is, December 12th marks a critical vote for the country.
The team here have taken a look at the manifestos from the three main UK parties to see what’s on offer for apprenticeships – and here’s what we’ve found.
All information can be verified in each party’s General Election 2019 manifesto (links included below).
The Election in Apprenticeships
The Conservatives outline a new National Skills Fund as the centrepiece of their manifesto for skills. This National Skills Fund would:
- Be worth £3 billion over the next Parliament
- Provide matching funding for individuals and SMEs for “high-quality” education and training
- Reserve a proportion for further strategic investment in skills
- Be designed following consultation
For apprenticeships the manifesto outlines that “we will help employers invest in skills and look at how we can improve the working of the Apprenticeship Levy”.
Further details include:
- An expectation to “train up hundreds of thousands more highly skilled apprentices”.
- A need for “significant numbers” of apprentices for “all big new infrastructure projects”.
On a further note about employment the manifesto states that “departure from the European Union means we can develop forward looking regulations to ensure we are first in line to develop and benefit from the technologies of the future.”
“This requires a dramatic rebooting of our training system – to support public services, existing businesses and the businesses of the future.”
The Labour manifesto proposes a National Education Service. This service would provide free lifelong entitlement to:
- Training up to Level 3
- Six years training at Levels 4-6 (with maintenance grants for disabled learners)
The manifesto focuses on the use of the Apprenticeship Levy. Labour propose to allow use of the Levy for “a wider range of accredited training”.
They also aim to:
- Increase the amount that can be transferred to non-levy paying employers to 50%
- Introduce an online matching service to help levy-paying businesses find smaller businesses to transfer their funds to
Labour’s most ambitious plan is to launch a Climate Apprenticeship Programme, or “the STEM of the future”. This would aim to develop the skills needed to lead the world in clean technology.
To put this in place, employers will be expected to allocate 25% of Apprenticeship Levy funds to either:
- Train climate apprentices, or:
- Contribute to a ring-fenced Climate Apprenticeship Fund
The Climate Apprenticeship Fund would then also be accessible to non-levy paying businesses.
Furthermore, targeted bursaries would be available to women, BAME people, care leavers, ex-armed forces personnel and people with disabilities. These bursaries would encourage the take up of climate apprenticeships
The manifesto also states that Labour will give employers a role in co-design and co-production of qualifications.
The Liberal Democrats are aiming to introduce a “Skills Wallet”. This will allocate £10,000 for every adult in England to spend on education and training. This funding breaks down as:
- £4,000 available at age 25
- £3,000 available at age 40
- £3,000 available at age 55
Extra payments can be made into this fund by employers, local government and by individuals themselves. They can then (with access to free careers guidance) choose how and when to spend this money on approved education and training courses.
The Liberal Democrats also intend to amend the Apprenticeship Levy by expanding it into a wider ‘Skills and Training Levy’. This will help to “prepare the UK’s workforce for the economic challenges ahead”. 25% of funds raised by the levy will funnel into a ‘Social Mobility Fund’ targeted at areas with the greatest skills need.
The manifesto aims to reduce the skills gap by “advancing higher vocational training”. It focuses on foundation degrees, Higher National Diplomas, Higher National Certificates and Higher Apprenticeships.
Finally, they plan to develop National Colleges as “national centres of expertise” for key sectors such as renewable energy.
Beyond the General Election
It may be a lower priority than other topics, but this is an election that could lead to big changes in Further Education. As always we will keep you informed of any developments that could affect you and your business.