Labour pledges 80k 'climate apprenticeships' per year

Party also announces plans to deliver 886,000 apprenticeships by 2030 and reform levy

Tes Reporter

Labour pledge to deliver 80,000 climate change apprentices

Labour has promised to create a "climate apprenticeship" programme that would train an average of 80,000 people per year.

If elected, the party said it would also bring in reforms to the apprenticeship levy in a bid to better meet the needs of workers and employers, as well as tackling the climate emergency.

Under the plans, Labour said it would deliver 320,000 apprenticeships in England during its first term in government, with 886,000 to be created by 2030.

Need to know: What do Labour's plans mean for FE?

More: Labour pledges six years of free study for adults

Opinion: 'The kids are all right about climate change'

Climate apprenticeships would upskill the UK workforce so that UK companies could compete and succeed in the green economy, the party said.

Reforming the apprenticeship levy

Under the plans, businesses would benefit from an average of 80,000 people per year being trained as apprentice engineers and technicians in renewable energy and transport, civil engineers and skilled tradespeople in sustainable construction, designers, welders and fabricators in low-carbon industries, and sustainable agriculture and forestry specialists.

Labour said the programme would be funded by diverting 25 per cent of the funds employers already set aside through the apprenticeship levy and topped up by any dividends over the cap paid into Labour's Inclusive Ownership Funds, which the party expected to be £700 million by 2024.

Labour said it would give employers more flexibility in how they spent levy funds, allowing funds to be redeemed for a wider range of accredited training and extending the period of time during which employers were able to spend them.

The party said it would also increase the amount of money that businesses were allowed to transfer to non-levy paying small and medium-sized businesses.

'Last chance to tackle the climate emergency'

When speaking to business leaders at the Confederation of British Industry annual conference today, leader Jeremy Corbyn was expected to say: "Labour's green industrial revolution will be a central motor of the party's plans to transform our country and economy, using public investment to create good, clean jobs, tackle the climate emergency and rebuild held-back towns, cities and communities.

"Climate apprenticeships will offer training to school leavers and workers looking to change jobs mid-career, creating the engineers, technicians and construction workers we need to transition to a green economy.

"This election is our last chance to tackle the climate emergency. The Tories have failed to invest in our economy, failed to deliver apprenticeships and failed to face up to the climate emergency."

Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) chief executive Mark Dawe claimed the climate-apprenticeships target was not unrealistic. 

"These apprenticeships are vital for the future and we support investment in the training of our young people and workforce for this important sector," he said. 

"AELP wants to see large and small businesses in all sectors benefit from the levy, which is already being overspent on apprenticeships, and therefore we believe that it is premature to start talking about the levy being used for other forms of training. 

"When all SMEs can start accessing funding from the government’s Apprenticeship Service next year, any levy payer’s unspent levy entitlement should be available for smaller employers to use without the need for the transfer mechanism. Nonetheless there still won’t be enough funding to meet demand and so we are calling for an additional £1.5 billion annual apprenticeship budget for SMEs.”

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