|Thanks to https://unsplash.com/@heftiba for this image|
Education and Skills is thankfully a devolved issue in Scotland and we have our own levers and our own challenges in making Education and Skills in Scotland reflect the needs of Scottish learners, employers and broader civil society. And thankfully education and training is still viewed in the main as a social good across the political spectrum in Scotland.
But it is worth having a keek over Hadrian's Wall as large UK employers will have an appetite or at least will question the Scottish institutional response to some of the broader English reforms around Further Education and Vocational Skills Reform.
Some of these policy commitments could have big implications for Scottish training providers operating in England and for FE Colleges in Scotland trying to hold on to training contracts from English based organisations.
In amongst all of this there are some good ideas, from both sides of this political divide. Some of these ideas might even creep north of the border but only the good ones, I hope.
The summaries of Labour and Conservative Manifesto's as reported by The Federation of UK Awarding Bodies appear below along with links to the full party manifesto.
Labour Party Manifesto
- Labour would introduce free, lifelong education in FE colleges, enabling everyone to upskill or retrain at any point in life.
- 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.
- 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.
- Labour would restore the Education Maintenance Allowance for 16-18 year olds from lower and middle income backgrounds
- Labour would replace Advanced Learner Loans and upfront course fees with direct funding, making FE courses free at the point of use.
- 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
- 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.
- Roll out of T Levels with an average of 900 teaching hours per year and a 3 month work placement. No specific mention of or timescales licences etc.
- Repeated commitment to create 3 million apprenticeships for young people by 2020.
- A UCAS-style portal for technical education
- Commitment to establish skills as a key part of the "modern industrial strategy"
- £250 million investment in skills by the end of 2020 from the National Productivity Investment Fund
- Double the Immigration Skills Charge levied on companies employing migrant workers, to £2,000 a year by the end of the parliament.
- Ensure that the skills and qualifications gained by members of the armed forces are recognised by civilian employers
- New institutes of technology, backed by leading employers and linked to universities, in every major city in England. They will provide courses at degree level and above, specialising in technical disciplines, such as STEM, whilst also providing higher-level apprenticeships and bespoke courses for employers
- Employers still "at the centre of these reforms" with Skills Advisory Panels and Local Enterprise Partnerships working at a regional and local level.
- Discounted bus and train travel for apprentices
- A new right to request leave for training for all employees.
- A national retraining scheme - the costs of training will be met by the government, with companies able to gain access to the Apprenticeship Levy to support wage costs during the training period.
- A right to lifelong learning in digital skills.