At the heart of Labour’s plans for further education is the key premise of its National Education Service – making lifelong learning free at the point of use and building an integrated service that’s easy for people to access.
"Under the Tories, adult education has undergone 10 years of managed decline," the Labour manifesto, published today, states, adding: "Labour will ensure fairness and sustainability in further education."
The most eye-catching statement in the manifesto is the pledge to do this by "aligning the base rate of per-pupil funding in post-16 education with key stage 4". According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the gap in per-student funding between secondary and 16-18 education stood at 9 per cent in 2017-18.
Conservative manifesto: T levels and IoTs
Lib Dem manifesto: GCSE resits and funding
Election 2019: Labour's manifesto plans for FE
- As well as increasing the base rate of funding, a Labour government would provide "dedicated capital funding to expand provision" and bring back the Education Maintenance Allowance.
There would be a free lifelong entitlement to training up to level 3, as well as six years of training at levels 4-6, with maintenance grants for disadvantaged learners.
Workers in "industries that are significantly affected by industrial transition" would receive other "additional entitlements".
Employers would be given a "role in co-design and co-production of qualifications".
Labour would "restore" funding for English for speakers of other languages (Esol) courses and "restore and expand the Union Learning Fund, giving workers the right to accrue paid time off for education and training".
Careers advice would be reformed, "working towards an integrated information, advice and guidance system that covers the entire" National Education Service.
Labour would "reverse the fragmentation and privatisation of further and adult education, incorporating it into a single national system of regulation that functions for education as our NHS does for healthcare provision".
In higher education, Labour would abolish tuition fees and bring back maintenance grants.
The Office for Students would be transformed "from a market regulator to a body of the National Education Service, acting in the public interest", with post-qualification admissions also being introduced for higher education.
Labour will "make it easier for employers to spend the [apprenticeship] levy by allowing it to be used for a wider range of accredited training, in line with guidelines set by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education and government’s wider priorities for the economy".
- The party's pledge on creating "climate apprenticeships", with the aim of upskilling workers to help businesses compete in the green economy, was also confirmed in the manifesto.
- The amount of apprenticeship funding that can be transferred to non-levy-paying employers will be increased to 50 per cent. Labour would also introduce an online matching service to help levy-paying businesses find smaller businesses to transfer their funds to