A copy of the Draft Labour Party manifesto was leaked to FE Week yesterday. Here’s the section on further education and apprenticeships in full. One of the commitments is to fund apprentice travel, so we’ve asked how much this policy would cost and above is our draft cartoon.

At a time when technology is changing demand for different kinds of skills, and evolving patterns of work mean that people are more likely to pursue several careers over a lifetime, it is crucial that our education system enables people to upskill and retrain over their lifetimes. As part of our dynamic industrial strategy, lifelong training will deliver productivity and growth to the whole economy while transforming the lives of individuals and communities.

To ensure that we deliver for every part of the UK, we will devolve responsibility for skills wherever there is an appetite.

Further and Adult Education

Despite claiming to be committed to delivering high quality training, the Conservatives have ruthlessly cut funding for FE colleges – our main provider of adult and vocational education – and reduced entitlements for adult learners. This has led to diminishing numbers of courses and students, and plunged the sector into crisis.

Labour would introduce free, lifelong education in FE colleges, enabling everyone to upskill or retrain at any point in life.

Our skills and training sector has been held back by repeated reorganisation, which deprives providers, learners and employers of the consistency they need to assess quality. 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’s 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.

To implement Sainsbury’s recommendations, we would correct historic neglect of the FE sector by giving the sector the investment – in teachers and facilities – it deserves to become a world-leading provider of adult and vocational education.

More specifically, we would:

  • Bring funding for 16-18 year olds in line with key stage 4 base lines, while ensuring that the budget is distributed fairly between colleges and school 6th forms
  • Restore the Education Maintenance Allowance for 16-18 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.

Drive up quality and consistency in the FE sector by:

  • Encouraging cooperation and leadership across colleges and 6th forms, improving curriculum breadth and quality
  • Setting a target, backed up by funding, for all FE teaching staff to have a teaching qualification within five years
  • 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


Employer-led training is the most effective way of meeting our growing skills gap. Labour supports the apprenticeship levy, but will take steps to ensure that every apprenticeship is of a high quality.

Labour will:

  • 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 programme
  • Guarantee trade union representation in the governance structures of the Institute of Apprenticeships.
  • Set targets to increase apprenticeships for people with disabilities, care leavers and veterans and ensure broad representation of women, BAME, LGBT and disabled people in all kinds of apprenticeships
  • Cover apprentices’ travel costs, which currently run to an average of £24 a week – a quarter of earnings if apprentices are on the minimum wage
  • Consult on introducing incentives for large employers to over-train apprenticeships to fill skills gaps in the supply chain and the wider sector
  • Reverse cuts to Union Learn
  • Set up a Commission on lifelong learning tasked with integrating FE and HE

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One comment

  1. Apprenticeships wise I think it looks good. I don’t think committing to changing anything on levy at this stage would be a wise move. Level 3 Apprenticeships doubling can only be good and it’s right that employers have more flexibility with their levy.

    Based on cost of living at the moment, the support to cover travel costs is an excellent idea. Bravo.

    Although I think in reality (sadly in my opinion) Labour could offer each person in the country £10k each and still not be voted in.