If you want to know what each of the main political parties are offering ,look at the main party manifestos on education. We’ve pulled them together here.
The Labour manifesto on education
TOWARDS A NATIONAL EDUCATION SERVICE
Currently, there is a gap between the end of maternity leave and the beginning of full-time schooling. This gap can make it difficult for parents, particularly women, to return to work, unless they have access to informal childcare support. There is also extensive evidence that early years’ education has a major impact on child development, and that time in a formal education setting for young children can improve performance at GCSE and beyond.
Labour would seek to roll out educational provision for early years’ children as part of a National Education Service that is truly cradle-to-grave. Labour introduced free childcare hours for parents, which were fully funded and resourced. Under the Conservatives, the free hours entitlement is chronically under-funded, with provision patchy and hard to navigate. Many providers now simply refuse to participate in the scheme. The result is that many parents aren’t even getting the hours they’re entitled to.
- Overhaul the existing childcare system in which subsidies are given directly to parents who often struggle to use them, and transition to a system of high-quality childcare places in mixed environments with direct government subsidy.
- Maintain current commitments on free hours and make significant capital investment during our first two years of government, to ensure that the places exist to meet demand.
- Phase in subsidised provision on top of free-hour entitlements, to ensure that everyone has access to affordable childcare, no matter their working pattern.
- Transition to a qualified, graduate-led workforce, by increasing staff wages and enhancing training opportunities. This will benefit staff, who are among our worst-paid workers, and improve child development.
- Extend the 30 free hours to all two year olds, and move towards making some childcare available for one year olds and extending maternity pay to 12 months. Sure Start, and the support it gives to vulnerable and hard-to-reach parents, was one of the great achievements of the previous Labour government, but under the Conservatives 1,200 Sure Start centres have been lost. Labour will halt the closures and increase the amount of money available for Sure Start.
Conservative cuts are starving schools of the funding they need to deliver a first class education. Crippling underfunding is driving up class sizes and forcing schools to cut corners. A narrow curriculum and a culture of assessment is driving away teachers, creating a recruitment and retention crisis.
Labour will not waste money on inefficient free schools and the Conservatives’ grammar schools vanity project. Labour does not want a return to secondary moderns. We will also oppose any attempt to force schools to become academies.
Labour’s schools policy will be built on the following four foundations:
- Investment – we will make sure schools are properly resourced by reversing the Conservatives’ cuts and ensuring that all schools have the resources they need. We will introduce a fairer funding formula that leaves no school worse off, while redressing the historical underfunding of certain schools. Labour will also invest in new school buildings, including the phased removal of asbestos from existing schools.
- Quality – we will drive up standards across the board, learning from examples of best practice, such as Labour’s London Challenge, to encourage co-operation and strong leadership across schools. We and trust in teachers and support staff professionalism to refocus their workload on what happens in the classroom.
- Accountability – Labour will ensure that all schools are democratically accountable, including appropriate controls to see that they serve the public interest and their local communities. We will require joined-up admissions policies across local schools to enable councils to fulfil their responsibilities on child places, to simplify the admissions process for parents and to ensure that no child slips through the net.
- Inclusion – Every child is unique, and a Labour-led education system will enable each to find their learning path through a wide choice of courses and qualifications. We will invest in measures to close the attainment gap between children from different backgrounds.
- To give all children the best start in life, we will reduce class sizes to less than 30 for all five, six, and seven-year-olds, and seek to extend that as resources allow.
- To aid attainment, we will introduce free school meals for all primary school children, paid for by removing the VAT exemption on private school fees.
- We will abandon plans to reintroduce baseline assessments and launch a commission to look into curriculum and assessment, starting by reviewing Key Stage 1 and 2 SATs. The world’s most successful education systems use more continuous assessment, which avoids ‘teaching for the test’.
- We will tackle the teacher recruitment and retention crisis by ending the public-sector pay cap, giving teachers more direct involvement in the curriculum, and tackling rising workloads by reducing monitoring and bureaucracy.
- We will also consult on introducing teacher sabbaticals and placements with industry to encourage interaction between education and industry and introduce broad experiences into the classroom.
- We will reintroduce the Schools Support Staff Negotiating Body and national pay settlements for teachers.
- We will put £150 million back into supporting our children in schools by scrapping the Conservatives’ nonsensical plans for schools to pay the apprenticeship levy. We will extend schools-based counselling to all schools to improve children’s mental health, at a cost of £90 million per year.
- We will deliver a strategy for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) based on inclusivity, and embed SEND more substantially into training for teachers and non-teaching staff, so that staff, children and their parents are properly supported.
At a time when technology is changing demand for different kinds of skills, and evolving patterns of work mean that people are more likely to pursue several careers during their working lives, it is crucial that our education system enables people to upskill and retrain over their lifetimes. As part of our dynamic industrial strategy, lifelong training will deliver productivity and growth to the whole economy while transforming the lives of individuals and communities.
To ensure that we deliver for every part of the UK, we will:
- Devolve responsibility for skills, wherever there is an appetite, to city regions or devolved administrations.
FURTHER AND ADULT EDUCATION
Despite claiming to be committed to delivering high-quality training, the Conservatives have ruthlessly cut funding for FE colleges – our main provider of adult and vocational education – and reduced entitlements for adult learners. This has led to diminishing numbers of courses and students, and plunged the sector into crisis. Labour would introduce free, lifelong education in Further Education (FE) colleges, enabling everyone to upskill or retrain at any point in life. Our skills and training sector has been held back by repeated reorganisation, which deprives providers, learners and employers of the consistency they need to assess quality.
- 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. We share the broad aims of the Sainsbury Review but would ensure vocational routes incorporate the service sector as well as traditional manufacturing, working in tandem with our broad industrial strategy to deliver for the whole economy.
- We will improve careers advice and open up a range of routes through, and back into, education, striking a balance between classroom and on-the-job training, to ensure students gain both technical and soft skills. To implement the Sainsbury 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. More specifically, we would
- Bring funding for 16 to18-year-olds in line with Key Stage 4 baselines, while ensuring that the budget is distributed fairly between colleges and school sixth forms
- Restore the Education Maintenance Allowance for 16 to 18-year-olds from lower and middle income backgrounds
- Replace Advanced Learner Loans and upfront course fees with direct funding, making FE courses free at the point of use, including English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses.
- Drive up quality and consistency in the FE sector by: • Encouraging co-operation and leadership across colleges and sixth forms, improving curriculum breadth and quality
- Setting a target, backed up by funding, for all teaching staff to have a teaching qualification within five years.
- In recognition of the role played by private-sector providers, we would extend support for training to teachers in the private sector
- Increase capital investment to equip colleges to deliver T-levels and an official pre-apprenticeship trainee programme.
Employer-led training is the most effective way of meeting our growing skills gap. Labour supports the apprenticeship levy, but will take steps to ensure that every apprenticeship is of a high quality.
- 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.
Labour believes education should be free, and we will restore this principle. o one should be put off educating themselves for lack of money or through fear of debt. There is a real fear that students are being priced out of university education. Last year saw the steepest fall in university applications for 30 years. Since the Conservatives came to power, university tuition fees have been trebled to over £9,000 a year, and maintenance grants have been abolished and replaced with loans. The average student now graduates from university, and starts their working life, with debts of £44,000.
- Labour will reintroduce maintenance grants for university students, and we will abolish university tuition fees. University tuition is free in many northern European countries, and under a Labour government it will be free here too.
The Lib-Dem manifesto on education
Put Children First
Stop the education cuts – fair funding for every school
Schools in England are facing an unprecedented funding crisis, with rising pupil numbers and an inadequate financial settlement meaning that real-terms per pupil funding is being squeezed. At the same time the Conservatives’ flawed approach to the National Fair Funding Formula means some schools will lose out even more. Liberal Democrats believe every child deserves a high-quality education, wherever they live. We will:
- Reverse all cuts to front-line school and college budgets, protecting per-pupil funding in real terms.
- Introduce a fairer national funding system with a protection for all schools, so that no school loses money.
- Protect the Pupil Premium which targets extra help at disadvantaged children. Over the parliament, this means nearly £7 billion more for school and college budgets.
- Quality really counts in early years
- Investing in high-quality early years education has a huge impact on children’s attainment as they enter school. Our most vulnerable children have the most to gain from excellent early years settings, with partnerships with parents a key component. We will:
- Increase our Early Years Pupil Premium to £1,000 per pupil per year.
- Raise the quality of early years provision and aim for every formal early years setting to employ at least one person who holds an early year’s teacher qualification by 2022.
- Teachers – our biggest asset in education
- Too many good teachers are leaving the profession – in many cases because of the excessive pressure they are under from heavy workloads and funding cuts. We want to empower teachers and make sure they feel valued for the essential work they do. We want to improve the status of the teaching profession, and support and nurture teachers in their work – helping to drive up standards in every school.
- End the 1% cap on teachers’ pay rises.
- Guarantee that all teachers in state-funded schools will be fully qualified or working towards qualified teacher status (QTS) from January 2019
- Introduce a clear and properly funded entitlement to genuinely high-quality professional development for all teachers – 25 hours per year by 2020, rising to the OECD average of 50 hours by 2025.
- Support proper long-term planning of initial teacher training places, prioritising close partnerships with higher education and specialist routes such as Teach First in order to recruit the highest-quality teachers in shortage areas such as science, technology, engineering, the arts and maths.
- Tackle unnecessary teacher workloads, including by: Establishing an independent Education Standards Authority to pilot, phase in and resource future policy changes in consultation with professionals and experts. Reforming Ofsted inspections so that they include a focus on longer-term outcomes and sustainable improvement as well as teacher workload, sickness and retention. Supporting the establishment of a new, independent Foundation for Leadership in Education, working under the umbrella of the Chartered College of Teaching, to promote high-quality, evidence-based leadership and help the best leaders into the most challenging schools.Continue to work with the Education Endowment Foundation to establish a comprehensive evidence base on what works in teaching.
Driving up school standards
Far too many children are still failing to get the opportunities they need. We cannot fail our children – especially when we know it is the children who need the most help who are the most likely to be let down. The Conservatives’ obsession with more grammar schools is not the answer. Liberal Democrats want to give every child the chance of attending an excellent local school. We will:
- Give democratically accountable local authorities clear responsibility for local school places planning and repeal the rule that all new state-funded schools must be free schools or academies. We will encourage local head teachers with a strong record to play a key role in school improvement, working with schools and local authorities.
- Scrap the planned expansion of grammar schools and devolve all capital monies for new school spaces to local authorities.
- Allow Ofsted to inspect both local authorities and academy chains.
- Rule out state-funded profit-making schools and ensure that new schools are built in areas where there is a need for new school places, instead of wasting money on oversupply.
- Ensure that identification and support for special educational needs and disabilities take place as early as possible. All new policies should have an assessment of how they affect pupils who have special educational needs, and ensure they adhere to duties under the Equality Act.
Curriculum and qualifications
We want schools to have flexibility, but we also believe that parents and children need to know that the curriculum in every school will cover the essentials, and that teachers will be skilled educators who know how to inspire a love of learning. Education should equip children with rich knowledge for life, nurturing creativity and problem-solving, and instilling a passion for lifelong learning. Children should be helped to develop the life skills they will need as adults, and every pupil should be given advice and guidance about their future. We will:
- Introduce a curriculum entitlement – a slimmed down core national curriculum, which will be taught in all state-funded schools. This will include Personal, Social and Health Education: a ‘curriculum for life’ including financial literacy, first aid and emergency lifesaving skills, mental health education, citizenship and age-appropriate Sex and Relationship Education (SRE).
- Include in SRE teaching about sexual consent, LGBT+ relationships, and issues surrounding explicit images and content.
- Make the curriculum the responsibility of an Educational Standards Authority to pilot, phase in and resource future changes in consultation with professionals and experts while retaining legitimate democratic accountability.
- Prioritise primary progress measures instead of floor thresholds and work with the profession to reform tests at 11, preventing curriculum narrowing in upper Key Stage 2.
- Protect the availability of arts and creative subjects in the curriculum and act to remove barriers to pupils studying these subjects.
- Improve the quality of vocational education, including skills for entrepreneurship and self-employment, and improve careers advice in schools and colleges.
- Improve links between employers and schools, encouraging all schools to participate in employment and enterprise schemes that promote regular experiences in business. In particular, we will seek to inspire more children and young people to follow technical and scientific careers through partnership with relevant businesses.
- Challenge gender stereotyping and early sexualisation, working with schools to promote positive body image and break down outdated perceptions of gender appropriateness of particular academic subjects.
Getting children and families ready to learn
England’s young people are some of the unhappiest and most anxious in the world. Schools are on the front line in dealing with children and young adults with mental health issues. We also know that children cannot learn properly if they are undernourished. Parents are under huge pressure and receive little support even though home is the biggest influence on children’s learning. Liberal Democrats believe that parents need to be properly empowered and supported with the tools they need to raise the next generation, and involved in the running of their children’s schools. We will:
- Ensure that all teaching staff have the training to identify mental health issues and that schools provide immediate access for pupil support and counselling.
- Include promoting wellbeing as a statutory duty of a school, to be part of the Ofsted inspection framework.
- Extend free school meals to all children in primary education and promote school breakfast clubs.
- Establish a new online Family University, supported by leading organisations such as the BBC and Open University, to provide every family with advice and guidance for learning and parenting at home, as well as inspiring trips out and local opportunities.
- Ensure collaboration between leading education and family organisations to improve the flow of helpful information between home and school without increasing teacher workload.
- Tackle bullying in schools, including bullying on the basis of gender, sexuality, gender identity or gender expression.
A world-class university sector, open to all
The ability of universities to attract funding to maintain top-quality research activity and deliver the best teaching depends on being open and outward looking. The ability to attract and retain the best staff and students in our world-class universities is vital. Brexit undermines these at every turn. In government, Liberal Democrats established a fairer system such that no undergraduate student in England had to pay a penny of their tuition fees up front or pay anything afterwards until they earn more than £21,000 per year. This meant that only high-earning graduates would pay their tuition fees in full, and eliminated systematic discrimination against part-time students. We now have the highest university application rates ever, including from disadvantaged students. But the Conservatives are threatening to undermine opportunity by ending student bursaries, freezing the repayment threshold and raising the level of fees. We will:
- Reinstate maintenance grants for the poorest students, ensuring that living costs are not a barrier to disadvantaged young people studying at university.
- Establish a review of higher education finance in the next parliament to consider any necessary reforms, in the light of the latest evidence of the impact of the existing financing system on access, participation and quality, and make sure there is no more retrospective raising of rates, or selling-off of loans to private companies.
- Ensure that all universities work to widen participation across the sector, prioritising their work with students in schools and colleges, and require every university to be transparent about selection criteria.
- Reverse the damage to universities and academics by changing the country’s course away from a hard Brexit.
- Recognise the value of international staff to universities and promote international collaboration.
- Fight to retain access to Horizon 2020 and Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions funding.
- Reinstate quality assurance for universities applying for degree-awarding powers.
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 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.
The Conservative manifesto on education
More good school places
We are proud of our reforms to education, which are giving millions of children a better start in life than they could have expected a decade ago. Thanks to our school reforms – such as the establishment of free schools and academies, and changes to ensure a rigorous curriculum – there are more good and outstanding schools today than ever before. There are now more than 1.8 million more children in schools rated good and outstanding than in 2010. The proportion of pupils taking core academic subjects at GCSE has almost doubled.
There remains a long way to go. For too many children, a good school remains out of reach. There are still 1 million children in primary and secondary schools rated by Ofsted as ’requires improvement’ or ’inadequate’. If schools across the Midlands and north of England had the same average standards as those in the south, nearly 200,000 more children would be attending good schools. We need to give every child in our country the best possible education if we are to provide them with the best opportunities in the world.
To achieve that ambition, we will have to go further in reforming our education system. So we will continue with our programme of free schools, building at least a hundred new free schools a year. We will prohibit councils from creating any new places in schools that have been rated either ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’ by Ofsted. We will make it a condition for universities hoping to charge maximum tuition fees to become involved in academy sponsorship or the founding of free schools. We will introduce new funding arrangements so we can open a specialist maths school in every major city in England. We will replace the unfair and ineffective inclusivity rules that prevent the establishment of new Roman Catholic schools, instead requiring new faith schools to prove that parents of other faiths and none would be prepared to send their children to that school. We will work with the Independent Schools Council to ensure that at least 100 leading independent schools become involved in academy sponsorship or the founding of free schools in the state system, keeping open the option of changing the tax status of independent schools if progress is not made.
We will lift the ban on the establishment of selective schools, subject to conditions, such as allowing pupils to join at other ages as well as eleven. Contrary to what some people allege, official research shows that slightly more children from ordinary, working class families attend selective schools as a percentage of the school intake compared to nonselective schools. While the attainment gap between rich and poor pupils stands at 25 per cent across the country, at selective schools it falls to almost zero.
These changes will have a great effect, but alone they cannot overcome the unfairness of selection by house price, where ordinary, working class families find it difficult to access the best schools because they cannot afford to live in the catchment area. We will therefore, conduct a review of school admissions policy. We will be clear at the outset that we will never introduce a mandatory lottery-based school admissions policy.
A knowledge-rich curriculum
Our reforms to what is taught in schools have been profound. We have addressed grade inflation and poor standards and developed a world-class curriculum. This has meant considerable change for pupils, teachers and schools. So now we will help them consolidate those gains, starting with the early building blocks of learning.
A Conservative government will strengthen the teaching of literacy and numeracy in the early years so that all pupils – regardless of background – get the best possible start in life. We will build on the success of the phonics screening test.
We will expect every 11-yearold to know their times tables off by heart. To maintain progress as children go through secondary school, we will improve schools’ accountability at key stage 3.
We will expect 75 per cent of pupils to have been entered for the EBacc combination of GCSEs by the end of the next parliament, with 90 per cent of pupils studying this combination of academic GCSEs by 2025.
We will ensure all children have access to an academic, knowledge-rich curriculum. We will introduce a curriculum fund to encourage Britain’s leading cultural and scientific institutions, like the British Museum and others to help develop knowledge-rich materials for our schools, and we will ensure that assessments at the end of primary school draw from a rich knowledge base, and reduce teaching to the test. We will consider how Ofsted can give parents more information on what their children are being taught.
We want great people to become teachers, teach in our most challenging schools and stay there. We will continue to provide bursaries to attract top graduates into teaching. To help new teachers remain in the profession, we will offer forgiveness on student loan repayments while they are teaching and bring in dedicated support to help them throughout their careers.
We will provide greater support for teachers in the preparation of lessons and marking, including through the use of technology, and we will bear down on unnecessary paperwork and the burden of Ofsted inspections. We will create a single jobs portal, like NHS Jobs, for schools to advertise vacancies in order to reduce costs and help them find the best teachers.
The way funding is distributed to schools in England is not fair. Across the country, children with the same needs and expectations receive markedly different rates of funding for their school place. We have begun to correct this and in the next parliament we will make funding fairer still. We appreciate that it is hard for schools receiving a higher level of funding to make cuts in order to pay for increases elsewhere, so while we will make funding fairer over the course of the parliament, we will make sure that no school has its budget cut as a result of the new formula. We will increase the overall schools budget by £4 billion by 2022, representing more than a real terms increase for every year of the parliament. We will continue to protect the Pupil Premium to support those who need it.
In order to fund these commitments, we have taken an important decision. We do not believe that giving school lunches to all children free of charge for the first three years of primary school – regardless of the income of their parents – is a sensible use of public money. There is now good evidence that school breakfasts are at least as effective in helping children to make progress in school. So under a new Conservative government, schools in England will offer a free school breakfast to every child in every year of primary school, while children from low-income families will continue to receive free school lunches throughout their years in primary and secondary education. The savings made from this change will be added to the core schools budget, meaning that every penny saved will go towards children’s education.
World-class technical education
For too long in this country, technical excellence has not been valued as highly as academic success. We want British technical education to be as prestigious as our world-leading higher education system, and for technical education in this country to rival the best technical systems in the world.
This will require bold reform of the funding, institutional and qualifications frameworks for technical education, in partnership with British industry. We have already introduced high quality apprenticeships that can reach to degree level and beyond for the 200,000 young people who choose to enter full-time vocational study after their GCSEs each year. We now need to go further to improve technical education and offer young people a real choice between technical and academic routes at sixteen. We will start by replacing 13,000 existing technical qualifications with new qualifications, known as T-levels, across fifteen routes in subjects including construction, creative and design, digital, engineering and manufacturing, and health and science. We will increase the number of teaching hours by fifty per cent to an average of 900 hours per year and make sure that each student does a three-month work placement as part of their course. And we will extend our reforms to the highest levels of technical qualification.
We will invest in further education colleges to make sure they have world-class equipment and facilities and will create a new national programme to attract experienced industry professionals to work in FE colleges. We will establish new institutes of technology, backed by leading employers and linked to leading 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. They will enjoy the freedoms that make our universities great, including eligibility for public funding for productivity and skills research, and access to loans and grants for their students. They will be able to gain royal charter status and regius professorships in technical education. Above all, they will become anchor institutions for local, regional and national industry, providing sought-after skills to support the economy, and developing their own local identity to make sure they can meet the skills needs of local employers.
To ensure that further, technical and higher education institutions are treated fairly, we will also launch a major review of funding across tertiary education as a whole, looking at how we can ensure that students get access to financial support that offers value for money, is available across different routes and encourages the development of the skills we need as a country.
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.
We will in the next parliament produce the best programme of learning and training for people in work and returning to work in the developed world. We will help all workers seeking to develop their skills in their existing jobs by introducing a new right to request leave for training for all employees. Alongside this, we will help workers to stay in secure jobs as the economy changes by introducing a national retraining scheme. Under the scheme, the costs of training will be met by the government, with companies able to gain access to the pprenticeship Levy to support wage costs during the training period.
We will break down the barriers to public sector workers taking on more qualified roles because of their prior educational attainment. For instance, we will ensure that teaching assistants can become qualified teachers and healthcare assistants can become nurses via a degree apprenticeship route, in addition to other routes. We will equip people with the digital skills they need now, and in the future, by introducing a right to lifelong learning in digital skills, just as we have done for literacy and numeracy.
More people in work
Employment is at a record high and we will continue to strive for full employment. We will continue to run the welfare system in accordance with our belief that work is the best route out of poverty, that work should always pay, and that the system should be fair both to the people in need of support and those who pay for it. We have no plans for further radical welfare reform in this parliament and will continue the roll-out of Universal Credit, to ensure that it always pays to be in work. We will also work to help those groups who have in the past found it difficult to get employment, by incentivising employers to take them on. So for businesses employing former wards of the care system, someone with a disability, those with chronic mental health problems, those who have committed a crime but who have repaid their debt to society, and those who have been unemployed for over a year, we will offer a holiday on their employers’ National Insurance Contributions for a full year. We will also provide targeted support for young people between the ages of 18 and 24 so that everyone, no matter what their start in life, is given the very best chance of getting into work.