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Education and Skills: Across the Political Landscape

Education and Skills: Across the Political Landscape

The Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Greens, the Scottish National Party (SNP), and Plaid Cymru are the six main political parties in the UK, representing millions of citizens.

In this thinkpiece, the Lifelong Education Institute explores how the subjects of education and skills were discussed at these parties’ conferences in September and October 2023. It evaluates the diverse policy positions espoused across the political landscape and considers their principal areas of focus and consideration. It concludes with key reflections on the main areas of consensus across the parties in opposition, and how the issues discussed by these politicians look set to shape future advances in UK lifelong learning policy.

Image by Julien Riedel
7 November 2023
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Key recommendations include:

1. Introduce concrete measures to address the needs of adult learners, laying out plans which are applicable for those already in professions, be they in early or mid-career stages.

2. Implement increased hours of free Government-funded childcare to allow more parents greater flexibility to work and also potentially take time to retrain.

3. Create a Growth and Skills Levy to drive new opportunities and the promotion of training programmes and upskilling, with future conversations to be had multilaterally, with learners, workers, and employers.

4. Invest in the training and the retention of teachers and in the provision of further support for students and staff to increase equal opportunities, regardless of social class and economic background.

5. Rebalance education policy competences between Holyrood, the Senedd and Westminster going forward.

6. Increase cooperation and lesson-learning between the four devolved nations on education, training and skills, so as to help address many shared issues.

7. Identify and evaluate measures to achieve high numeracy and literacy levels across society and help their development beyond early-years and pre-16 learning.

8. Increase parity of esteem between academic and technical education in avenues, beyond the new Advanced British Standard, which can benefit different types of learners and from all backgrounds.

9. Advance the importance of technical and vocational skills in the development of new opportunities for young people when they leave school, further or higher education and they enter the working world.

10.  Involve learners in decision-making processes to ensure that strategies for education and skills development are indeed for all, from early years to the seniors in our society.

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