Labour must build on vocational learning resurgence

Gareth Jones, Managing Director of In-Comm Training, reflects on Labour coming into power and why Apprenticeships need to be front and centre of its approach to skills.

“To be fair to the Conservatives, they did put apprenticeships back on the map and reignite its credibility among learners, parents and employers. 

This was no small feat, but now the baton has been passed to Labour to build on this evolution and there have already been some big promises leading up to this election – widening the scope of the Apprenticeship Levy would be a very welcome move for example.

Channelling further funding to schools to boost English and Maths standards is the right thing to do. Too often, young people leave without achieving these GCSEs and we have to step in to deliver the functional skills they require to start a pathway into vocational learning. Why should we have to do something in a short period of time that schools haven’t achieved in five years?

The future of skills provision will be very interesting under the new Government. In recent years, capital grants and funding have been strategically available for the right projects and the right private sector providers, and this has ensured that access to training is more employer-led, impactful and delivering the skills industry actually requires.

This must be maintained, and we can’t go back to the period where money was just given to public-owned universities and colleges.

Going forward, Labour’s manifesto states that it will push decisions on skills spend out of Westminster and into local communities to decide what they require, presumably continuing with the theme of devolution.

We would welcome this as long as the funding is open to the best providers and organisations and not ringfenced for the few. 

Industry requires a long-term strategy to build trust and give companies confidence to invest. To have a strong economy we must be making product – I’ve said it for years, yet many companies are dying with their owners choosing to retire rather than succession planning. We want a strong industrial sector with pathways to jobs for all.”

Gareth Jones, Managing Director of In-Comm Training and Business Services