From education to employment

Liberal Democrats Manifesto – Change Britain’s future

We thought it would be helpful to share the Liberal Democrats manifesto on Lifelong learning, Apprenticeships and innovation with you:
Lifelong opportunities to learn

We need to grow the country’s skills base, especially in the technologies and industries that are most important to Britain’s economic future. We want it to become the norm for businesses to take on and train up young people as apprentices in every sector of our economy, and for higher-level apprenticeships to be understood as a respected alternative to university education.

As our economy rapidly changes the need for people to retrain and reskill has never been more important. It is no longer the case that the skills learned at 18 or 21 will last throughout a career. The ability to learn new skills or change careers is also vital in creating the opportunity for people to succeed no matter their stage in life. That’s why Liberal Democrats support the need for lifelong learning. We 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 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 industrysectors 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.
Innovation, science and new technology

In the knowledge-based economy of the future, scientific research, innovation and skills will be crucial to prosperity. The advent of robotics and increasing artificial intelligence will also change the nature of work for many people. The government needs to act now to ensure this technological march can benefit everyone and   that no areas are left in technology’s wake. We will:

Develop the skilled workforce needed to support this growth with a major expansion of high-quality apprenticeships, including advanced apprenticeships, backed up with new sector-led national colleges. We will develop a national skills strategy for key sectors, including low-carbon technologies, to help match skills and people.

  • Invest to ensure that broadband connections and services to be provided before 2020 have a speed of 2 Gbps or more, with fibre to the premises (FTTP) as standard and unlimited usage by 2020 across the whole of the UK. SMEs should be prioritised in the roll-out of hyperfast broadband.
  • Aim to double the number of SMEs participating in the digital economy by supporting ICT capital expenditure by businesses in non-digital sectors.
  • Build on the success of Tech City, Tech North and the Cambridge tech cluster with a network across the UK acting as incubators for technology companies.
  • Create a new retail and business strategy to look at the impact of new technology on jobs in key sectors.
  • Commit to build digital skills in the UK and retain coding on the national curriculum in England.
  • Support growth in the creative industries, including video gaming, by continuing to support the Creative Industries Council and tailored industry-specific tax support, promoting creative skills, supporting modern and flexible patent, copyright and licensing rules, and addressing the barriers to finance faced by small creative businesses.
  • Invest in the future – supporting innovative technologies including the space industry.


Sector Response

Petra Wilton, Director of Strategy for the Chartered Management Institute, comments:
“A major investment in apprenticeships is vital to create a skills-based, internationally competitive economy. We call on the Lib Dems and other political parties to remain committed the new breed of employer-designed degree apprenticeships funded by the Apprenticeship Levy. These produce business-ready graduates and can go a long way to match skills with sector need.  
“Putting relevant skills training into the heart of the education system is important, but won’t be a silver bullet on its own. The government will need to focus on both young people, and upskilling those already in the workforce with hands-on, practical skills that are relevant to the future of the UK economy.”

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