As the elections draw closer, the competition between the main three parties continues to increase. Below is a summary of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat plans for further education from their manifestos.
£1.8bn capital investment for FE colleges
£3 billion National Skills Fund – We will invest £600 million a year, £3 billion over the Parliament, into the Fund. This is new funding on top of existing skills funding. We expect this to include funding for a range courses including apprenticeships. A proportion of the Fund will be reserved for further strategic investment in skills and it comes on top of existing skills and training programmes.
We will consult widely on the design of the Fund. The Treasury will consult widely on the final design of the Fund to ensure that the money is invested wisely and delivers the best possible outcomes for individuals and businesses. The full details will be set out in the first Spending Review of a Conservative majority Government. We will have strong quality assurance mechanisms in place.
It is our ultimate ambition to establish a Right to Retrain. Over time, it is our ambition to establish a Right to Retrain for all adults. Conservatives have previously empowered millions of people to own their own home with the Right to Buy. It is our ultimate ambition to empower millions of people in the future with the skills to achieve their potential, keep pace with technological change and embrace lifelong learning.”
Aligning the base rate of per-pupil funding in post-16 education with Key Stage 4, providing dedicated capital funding to expand provision and bringing back the Education Maintenance Allowance as the Welsh Labour Government has done.
Giving everyone a free lifelong entitlement to training up to Level 3 and six years training at Levels 4-6, with maintenance grants for disadvantaged learners.
Giving employers a role in co-design and co-production of qualifications.
Restore funding for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses
Union Learning Fund, giving workers the right to accrue paid time off for education and training.
Reform existing careers advice, working towards an integrated information, advice and guidance system that covers the entire NES.
Reverse the fragmentation and privatisation of further and adult education, incorporating it into a single national system of regulation that functions for education.
A Green Industrial Revolution will aim to create at least one million well-paid, unionised jobs in the UK as part of a goal to train people in the skills they need to access these jobs of the future.
Make it easier for employers to spend the Apprenticeships levy by allowing it to be used for a wider range of accredited training, in line with guidelines set by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education and government’s wider priorities for the economy.
Launch a Climate Apprenticeship programme to enable employers to develop the skills needed to lead the world in clean technology.
Targeted bursaries will be available to women, BAME people, care leavers, ex-armed forces personnel, and people with disabilities to encourage them to take up climate apprenticeships.
Increasing the amount that can be transferred to non-levy-paying employers to 50% and introducing an online matching service to help levy-paying businesses find smaller businesses to transfer their funds to.
Liberal Democrat Manifesto
£1bn extra funding for FE as well as refunding colleges for the VAT they pay.
Extend the pupil premium to 16-18 students, creating the new “young people’s premium”.
Implementing a “Skills Wallet”, which would give all adults over 25 a £10,000 grant over their lifetime to pay for further education or training.
Expand the apprenticeship levy into a wider “skills and training levy”. Some 25 per cent of the funds raised by the levy would go into a “Social Mobility Fund” targeted at areas with the greatest skill needs.
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”.
Address the shortage of advanced technicians by expanding “higher vocational training like foundation degrees, Higher National Diplomas, Higher National Certificates and higher apprenticeships”.