With only 6 weeks to go, the general election is creeping up on us all. Recent history has shown us that British politics is no longer a straightforward 2 horse race, so with the very real possibility of another coalition government ahead of is, it is essential that we understand how the policy priorities of all 7 main parties may affect that work that we do, and how this may affect the futures choices of our clients. Let’s get behind the propaganda and media circus that is surely about to erupt and focus on the facts – in the areas of job creation and education, what they are each promoting?
Priorities for the job market focus on the pledge to create three million new apprenticeships by 2015, which will be paid for directly by benefits cuts. Education will drive forwards it’s ‘war on illiteracy and innumeracy’ with a key priority being the potential conversion of up to 3,500 schools currently judged by Ofsted as ‘requiring improvement’ into academies. At least an extra 500 free schools will also be built. Higher Education will retain the status quo, with top tuition fees at £9,000.
Youth unemployment will be tackled by an ambitious plan to guarantee a job for under 25s who have been unemployed for over a year (for adults, this would apply for those with 2 years+ unemployment). And apprenticeship numbers will match those going to university by 2025. Job creation is focused on the tech and green industries. Education policy is focused on capping class sizes to 30 and the maximum cap for university tuition fees will be cut to £6,000
Apprenticeships will continue to be heavily promoted with the lowers paid apprentices to receive an extra £1 per hour. A million more jobs will be created, with heavy investment to make the UK a world leader in low carbon cars. High tech manufacturing is also identified as a jobs growth area. Education is the key theme in their election campaign and will be protected from any budget cuts. Particular emphasis is on supporting disadvantaged students.
The central jobs policy at UKIP revolves around the pledge to allow firms to offer jobs to British workers first, without fear of being sued. All legislation and regulations from the EU would be reviewed to remove those which hamper British prosperity. Students should be allowed to take an Apprenticeship qualification instead of 4 non-core GCSEs. And tuition fees should be scrapped for students from poorer backgrounds who wish to study STEM degrees.
Thousands of new jobs will be created by a national energy conservation scheme, with a wider economic emphasis on sustainable jobs and the promotion of local food and goods. In the field of education the Green Party stand opposed to early testing and league tables, and would seek to raise the school starting age to 6. Ofsted would be replaced by a ‘collaborative system of monitoring’ and university tuition fees would also be scrapped.
The SNP are committed to addressing issues of gender inequality in the workplace and would introduce gender quotas on the boards of all public companies. The promotion of a living wage also remains a central priority of their manifesto and they will continue to drive economic growth through small businesses via their ‘small business bonus’ tax reduction scheme. They will maintain the lack of tuition fees at Scottish universities and the grants/loans package.
Another party with emphasis on economic growth through small businesses, by providing tax relief benefits. They also wish to drive the Welsh economy through a commitment to increase contracts from Welsh public bodies to firms within Wales. Plaid Cymru stand opposed to academies and free schools and will not support any further increases in tuition fees for higher education, instead seeking to abolish them with public finances allow.