The Conservatives’ long-awaited general election manifesto, called ‘Forward Together’, has just been launched, outlining its plans for FE and skills.
Key pledges include:
- National Productivity Investment Fund, including £250 million in funding for skills by 2020 to boost productivity
- Double the Immigration Skills Charge for business employing skilled workers from outside the EU from £1,000 to £2,000 per employee
- Establish new institutes of technology, backed by leading employers and linked to leading universities, in every major city in England. They will provide courses at degree level and above, specialising in technical disciplines, such as STEM, whilst also providing higher-level apprenticeships and bespoke courses for employers.
- Launch a major review of funding across tertiary education as a whole, looking at how students can get access to financial support that offers value for money, is available across different routes and encourages the development of the skills needed as a country
- Deal with local skills shortages and ensure that colleges deliver the skills required by local businesses through Skills Advisory Panels and Local Enterprise Partnerships working at a regional and local level.
- Deliver commitment to create 3 million apprenticeships for young people by 2020
- Allow large firms to pass levy funds to small firms in their supply chain, and work with the business community to develop a new programme to allow larger firms to place apprentices in their supply chains
- Explore teaching apprenticeships sponsored by major companies, especially in STEM subjects
- Introduce a UCAS-style portal for technical education
- Introduce significantly discounted bus and train travel for apprentices to ensure that no young person is deterred from an apprenticeship due to travel costs
- Help all workers seeking to develop their skills in their existing jobs by introducing a new right to request leave for training for all employees
- Help workers to stay in secure jobs as the economy changes by introducing a national retraining scheme. Under the scheme, the costs of training will be met by the government, with companies able to gain access to the Apprenticeship Levy to support wage costs during the training period
- Ensure that teaching assistants can become qualified teachers and healthcare assistants can become nurses via a degree apprenticeship route, in addition to other routes
- Introduce a right to lifelong learning in digital skills
- Replace 13,000 existing technical qualifications with new qualifications, known as T-levels, across fifteen routes in subjects including construction, creative and design, digital, engineering and manufacturing, and health and science
- Increase the number of teaching hours by fifty per cent to an average of 900 hours per year and make sure that each student does a three-month work placement as part of their course
- Invest in further education colleges to make sure they have world-class equipment and facilities and will create a new national programme to attract experienced industry professionals to work in FE colleges
- Make a modern technical education available to everyone, throughout their lives, to provide the skills they need
More to follow