The Conservative party published its general election manifesto on 18 May.
Key proposals for our sector include:
• Retention of the 3 million apprenticeships target by 2020
• Creation of a National Retraining Scheme to ‘help workers stay in secure jobs’
• Subsidised travel for apprentices
• A right to lifelong learning in digital skills
• Pushing ahead with the Sainsbury technical education reforms
• Doubling the Immigration Skills Charge to £2,000 to help fund other training
• Ensuring apprenticeships can be used as a route to become a qualified teacher or nurse
• Establishing a National Productivity Investment Fund with £250m in funding for skills by 2020.
The manifesto confirmed other measures already in the pipeline such as levy payers being able to use their levy for apprenticeships in their supply chain companies.
It is also said that there will be no further radical welfare reform in the new Parliament and that the roll-out of Universal Credit will continue.
Commenting on the Conservative manifesto, AELP CEO Mark Dawe said:
‘It’s very encouraging to see 32 mentions of skills in the manifesto and we welcome the new proposals, but this is the new reality for a post-Brexit Britain with migratory controls – we have to train our own. AELP is also pleased that the Conservatives have retained the 3 million apprenticeships target which can be achieved with the retention of good quality provision within the programme. The commitments to post-16 technical education and improving English, maths and digital skills are welcome too.
‘The apprenticeship levy is going to transform skills and productivity among large employers but growth in the economy is heavily dependent on SMEs and we must ensure that enough funding from whichever source is being directed towards supporting the apprenticeships of these businesses. Therefore we are a little concerned about the proposal that proceeds of the apprenticeship levy should also contribute towards the wage costs of the proposed National Retraining Scheme although the scheme itself could be a valuable addition to tackling the post-Brexit skills challenges. The proposed wage subsidy will place further strain on the levy unless a new government guarantees a £1bn annual budget to train the apprentices of non-levy paying employers – a call that formed a major component of AELP’s own manifesto.
‘The manifesto says that money from the doubling of the annual charge levied on companies for each skilled worker they bring to the UK from the rest of the EU will be used to train British workers. It would be good if this was allocated to SMEs’ apprenticeships.
‘The offer to subsidise the travel costs of apprentices is good news because it underpins the social mobility agenda. More support for the Traineeships programme would also make a big difference in this regard.’
The full manifesto can be downloaded here: https://www.conservatives.com/manifesto.