From education to employment

Tough lessons for new government on raising education standards

The incoming government must embark on a wholesale reform of the education from nursery schools through to adult education to help close gaps between the UK and other comparable economies, according to an election briefing by the National Institute of Social and Economic Research.

NIESR has come up with hard-hitting recommendations and has analysed the manifestos of the three main British political parties to enable people to see which have addressed what it has identified as the key priorities across six education policy areas.

Labour, Conservatives and Lib Dems have all pledged to increase the education budget”, said Stefan Speckesser, Associate Research Director for Education & Labour at NIESR.

But they need to set out what policy actions they will take to make the education system more effective and fairer from early years via schools to further and higher education, and how outcomes across different levels of education can be improved.”

  • Early years spending should be increased to a level comparable to the European average (0.6% of GDP). Expenditure is low compared to other countries and has very high social benefits. Critically, proposals must detail how childcare will be delivered.
  • Education policy must do more to remove barriers for children from poor families, improving financial support.
  • Quality and financial sustainability of apprenticeships need to improve. Good quality apprenticeships must be created for people with both high and low previous skills. Developing industry links can inform the number of apprenticeship offerings at each level. 
  • Further Education (FE) and vocational training outside the A-Level / University way must be created.
  • Fair and sustainable university education calls for a review of the funding formula.
  • Reversing the decline in adult education and updating skills after job loss in an economy of accelerated structural change requires significant resources for labour market training. Public expenditure on this component must be linked to industrial policy objectives.


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