The Labour party published its general election manifesto on 16 May.
Key extracts for our sector from the manifesto include:
FE and skills
• To ensure that we deliver for every part of the UK, we will devolve responsibility for skills, wherever there is an appetite, to city regions or devolved administrations.
• Labour would introduce free, lifelong education in Further Education (FE) colleges, enabling everyone to upskill or retrain at any point in life.
• Labour would abandon Conservative plans to once again reinvent the wheel by building new technical colleges, redirecting the money to increase teacher numbers in the FE sector.
• We share the broad aims of the Sainsbury Review but would ensure vocational routes incorporate the service sector as well as traditional manufacturing, working in tandem with our broad industrial strategy to deliver for the whole economy.
• We will improve careers advice and open up a range of routes through, and back into, education, striking a balance between classroom and on-the-job training, to ensure students gain both technical and soft skills.
• Restore the Education Maintenance Allowance for 16 to 18-year-olds from lower and middle income backgrounds
• Replace Advanced Learner Loans and upfront course fees with direct funding, making FE courses free at the point of use, including English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses.
• In recognition of the role played by private-sector providers, we would extend support for training to teachers in the private sector
• Increase capital investment to equip colleges to deliver T-levels and an official pre-apprenticeship trainee programme.
• Labour supports the apprenticeship levy, but will take steps to ensure that every apprenticeship is of a high quality.
• Maintain the apprenticeship levy while taking measures to ensure high quality by requiring the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education to report on an annual basis to the Secretary of State on quality outcomes of completed apprenticeships to ensure they deliver skilled workers for employers and real jobs for apprentices at the end of their training.
• Set a target to double the number of completed apprenticeships at NVQ level 3 by 2022
• Give employers more flexibility in how the levy is deployed, including allowing the levy to be used for pre-apprenticeship programmes
• Protect the £440 million funding for apprenticeships for small-and medium-sized employers who don’t pay the levy
• Consult on introducing incentives for large employers to over-train numbers of apprentices to fill skills gaps in the supply chain and the wider sector
• Set up a commission on Lifelong Learning tasked with integrating further and higher education.
• Labour will reintroduce maintenance grants for university students, and we will abolish university tuition fees.
• Raise the Minimum Wage to the level of the Living Wage (expected to be at least £10 per hour by 2020) – for all workers aged 18 or over, so that work pays.
• Legislate to ensure that any employer wishing to recruit labour from abroad does not undercut workers at home – because it causes divisions when one workforce is used against another.
• We will strengthen the law so that those who work regular hours for more than 12 weeks will have a right to a regular contract, reflecting those hours.
• Shifting the burden of proof, so that the law assumes a worker is an employee unless the employer can prove otherwise.
• The cuts to work allowances in Universal Credit (UC), and the decision to limit tax credit and UC payments to the first two children in a family, are an attack on low-income families and will increase child poverty. Labour will reform and redesign UC.
• Commission a report into expanding the Access to Work programme.
The manifesto does not refer to the Work and Health Programme or employment programmes generally apart from Access to Work for those with a disability, health or mental health condition.
Responding to the manifesto proposals, AELP CEO Mark Dawe said:
“Labour’s focus on quality apprenticeships is welcome. We have to be a little careful however about using completions as a target measure, because this might lead to employers and providers only taking the applicants most likely to succeed and we must never lose sight that one of the best attributes of apprenticeships is them acting as a driver of social inclusion for young people. We are seeing better progression rates to level 3 apprenticeships but again the achievement of a level 2 apprenticeship can be a fantastic achievement for many young people who have received high quality training and supervision. It is reassuring that the vital role of all providers is recognised elsewhere in the manifesto.”
The Labour manifesto can be downloaded here: http://www.labour.org.uk/index.php/manifesto2017.