Labour sets out plan to boost skills training and drive economic growth in Manchester Withington during National Apprenticeships Week

Jeff Smith MP has set out Labour’s plan to boost skills and drive economic growth in Manchester Withington, as data reveals the Tories’ decade of decline in apprenticeships and training has left the country unprepared for the future.

Over the last decade apprenticeship starts have declined by 26% in Manchester Withington as the Tories have failed to equip individuals and the economy with the skills to meet our national challenges including transition to net zero and rising demand for digital skills.

To reverse this downwards trend Labour will give businesses the flexibility they’re asking for to train their workforce and deliver growth. We will start by turning the Tories’ failed apprenticeships levy into a ‘Growth and Skills Levy’.

The Conservatives’ levy has seen millions of pounds that should be used for skills training going unspent, even as businesses report growing skills shortages. Giving businesses flexibility would ensure this money could be spent on a greater range of training courses including basic English, maths and digital skills, so businesses can fill skills gaps and people can gain new skills to progress at work.

As part of a wider package of reform, Labour will establish a new taskforce, Skills England, to drive forward a national mission to deliver the skills needs of the next decade. This will be driven by pushing power and decisions on skills spending out from Westminster to local communities, so those communities can better match up skills training with their local business needs and grow local and regional economies.

Jeff Smith, Labour MP for Manchester Withington, said:

“For twelve years the Tories have been letting down our community with a decade of decline in opportunities.

“Young people and adults are ambitious for their families’ futures and want to learn new skills to get new jobs, or progress at work. But they are being let down, unable to find training opportunities.

“Labour will reverse this trend, giving businesses the flexibility they need to train people up with new skills from digital technologies, to the green skills needed to tackle climate change.”

Toby Perkins MP, Labour’s Shadow Skills Minister, said:

“Boosting skills and training opportunities will be essential to meeting the economic challenges we face and enabling people at every stage of their lives to learn, retrain and progress at work.

“This builds on Labour’s commitment to embed essential digital and life-skills across the school curriculum, and ensure all young people receive professional careers advice and work experience so they leave education ready for work and for life.”

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