The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have published their manifestos for the forthcoming General Election. The good news is that all are still strongly committed to Apprenticeships.
Conservative’s Commitment to Apprenticeships
As well as introducing T Levels (the technical equivalent of A Levels) by 2019, they are still pursuing a target of 3 million starts by 2020. Notably, the use of the Levy will be extended to support skills training for existing members of staff by using funds to cover wage costs.
We will put employers at the centre of these reforms. We will 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. We will deliver our commitment to create 3 million apprenticeships for young people by 2020 and in doing so we will drive up the quality of apprenticeships to ensure they deliver the skills employers need. We will 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. We will explore teaching apprenticeships sponsored by major companies, especially in STEM subjects. Lastly, we will make the system easier for young people taking technical and vocational routes. We will introduce a UCAS-style portal for technical education. We will introduce significantly discounted bus and train travel for apprentices to ensure that no young person is deterred from an apprenticeship due to travel costs.
Lastly, we will make the system easier for young people taking technical and vocational routes. We will introduce a UCAS-style portal for technical education. We will introduce significantly discounted bus and train travel for apprentices to ensure that no young person is deterred from an apprenticeship due to travel costs.
Labour’s Commitment to Apprenticeships
Labour has taken a slightly different approach by setting a target to double the number of apprenticeships that are to be completed at Level 3 by 2022. They have also declared that a figure of £440 million will be retained to fund apprenticeships for SMEs.
- 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. And we will work with the devolved administrations to improve the operation of the levy
- 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
- Guarantee trade union representation in the governance structures of the Institute of Apprenticeships
- Protect the £440 million funding for apprenticeships for small-and medium-sized employers who don’t pay the levy
- Set targets to increase apprenticeships for people with disabilities, care leavers and veterans, and ensure broad representation of women, BAME, LGBT and people with disabilities in all kinds of apprenticeships
- 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
- Reverse cuts to Unionlearn
- Set up a commission on Lifelong Learning tasked with integrating further and higher education.
Liberal Democrat’s Commitment to Apprenticeships
The Lib Dems have moved away from focussing on apprenticeships just being for under 21 years olds. They focus more on apprenticeships being for everyone to develop skills to be successful. They are less committed to actual numbers but have an intention to double the number of businesses that take on apprentices.
The Liberal Democrats will:
- Aim to double the number of businesses which hire apprentices, including by extending apprenticeships to new sectors of our economy such as creative and digital industries. ● Develop national colleges as national
- Develop national colleges as national centres of expertise for key sectors, such as renewable energy, to deliver the high-level vocational skills that businesses need.
- Work with the Apprenticeship Advisory Group to increase the number of apprentices from BAME backgrounds, ensure gender balance across industry sectors and encourage under-represented groups to apply.
- Identify and seek to solve skills gaps – for example, the lack of advanced technicians – by expanding higher vocational training such as foundation degrees, Higher National Diplomas, Higher National Certificates and Higher Apprenticeships.
- Ensure that all the receipts from the Apprenticeship Levy in England are spent on training, aiming to fund a wider range of types of training.
- Aim to meet all basic skills needs including literacy, numeracy, and digital skills by 2030.
- Create individual accounts for funding mature adult and part-time learning and training, and provide for all adults individual access to all necessary career information, advice and guidance.
- Facilitate across the UK an effective and comprehensive system for credit transfer and recognition of prior learning and qualifications.
Interestingly, all three parties are committed to the Apprenticeship Levy and they all seem to want to extend the groups of people that want to have access to funded provision.
It will be interesting to see what happens.