Statement on Conservatives 2019 Manifesto

We welcome that the publication of the Conservative manifesto which includes a range of commitments around further education and skills. Both the Prime Minister and the Education Secretary have spoken of their desire to improve funding within FE.

The announcement of a £3 billion Skills fund over the course of the Parliament is welcome, especially as it is not inclusive of existing skills budgets. However, the party recognises that this funding will only be the first step to establish a right to retrain. With the Labour party promising fully funded training at level three and an entitlement to six years of training at levels 4+, and the Liberal Democrats are offering 10k each for individuals to retrain, the Conservative’s proposals seem modest in comparison.

In other areas there is a lack of detail about what a new Conservative Government would do. The manifesto talks about improving the apprenticeship levy, but there is not a great amount of detail about what improvements to the current system the Government would make. There is a further commitment to ensure that a significant number of new apprentices will be required for all big new infrastructure projects, but again it is unclear what “significant” in this context would look like.

Other commitments that appear in the manifesto such as the plan to give almost £2billion of capital funding to colleges, or to deliver 20 institutes of technology are policies that have already been announced.

Overall, we welcome the commitments that the Conservatives have made, but with little detail around how they would look to improve the apprenticeship levy, further questions will remain.

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