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Collab Group Statement on Labour Party Manifesto

We welcome that the Labour party has today published its manifesto. There are a number of interesting and ambitious policies that set out a clear role for further education in achieving some of the parties wider ambitions. There are, however, a number of areas where further detail is needed.

We support the commitments to make lifelong learning a reality with fully funded study up to Level 3 as well as six years training at Levels 4-6 and maintenance grants for disadvantaged learners. While the party previously estimated that these polices would cost £3.1 billion the manifesto does not reference these figures.

As we have previously stated, we are supportive of the plans to create 320,000 climate apprenticeships in the first term of a Labour Government. Further education colleges can play a key role in providing the technical expertise to tackle climate change. A new element of detail in the manifesto is that employers will be expected to allocate 25% of the funds in their Apprenticeship Levy accounts to training Climate Apprentices. This is understandable as a mechanism to fund the policy, but may not be well received by levy payers, who will be restricted in how their utilise their levy funding. We support the plans to raise the levy transfer cap to 50% . However, as we have said previously, what is needed is not just an increase in the amount of money that can be transferred, but a need to reduce the complexity of the Digital Apprenticeships System. The system as it currently stands is preventing employers from transferring money, so the raising the transfer cap is good, but it won’t mean much unless employers are able to transfer funds relatively easily.

Finally, we are not convinced by the calls of the Labour party to scrap Ofsted. There are certainly legitimate criticisms that can be made of the inspector, there is little sense in scrapping it without a clear idea of what it would be replaced with.

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