Manifesto Watch: Apprenticeships

A popular alternative to higher education is vocational training, which aims to allow an individual to head straight into a high level jobs with specialised training and experience. Apprenticeship programmes have been shown to be effective paths to achieving this goal and are popular with employers. Here we look at the polices each political party has on the future of apprenticeship programmes:

(Note: In order to find these points we have searched the key words ‘apprenticeship’ in the manifestos and copied all relevant points including the phrase, that do not repeat an already copied statement. These policies are only for apprenticeship programmes and do not include various alternative forms of vocational training. Some do mention the issue more than others, we advise you read the manifestos further if you would like more information and context.)

  • “We will deliver our commitment to create 3 million apprenticeships for young people by 2020” (page 53)
  • “We will explore teaching apprenticeships sponsored by major companies, especially in STEM subjects” (page 53)
  • “We will introduce significantly discounted bus and train travel for apprentices to ensure that no young person is deterred from an apprenticeship due to travel costs.” (page 53)
  • “We will ensure that teaching assistants can become qualified teachers and healthcare assistants can become nurses via a degree apprenticeship route, in addition to other routes.” (page 53)

  • “Maintain the apprenticeship levy while taking measures to ensure high quality”(page 40)
  • “Set a target to double the number of completed apprenticeships at NVQ level 3 by 2022” (page 40)
  • “Give employers more flexibility in how the levy is deployed, including allowing the levy to be used for pre-apprenticeship programmes” (page 40)
  • “Guarantee trade union representation in the governance structures of the Institute of Apprenticeships” (page 42)
  • “Protect the £440 million funding for apprenticeships for small-and medium-sized employers who don’t pay the levy” (page 42)
  • “Set targets to increase apprenticeships for people with disabilities, care leavers and veterans, and ensure broad representation of women, BAME, LGBT and people with disabilities in all kinds of apprenticeships” (page 42)
  • “Consult on introducing incentives for large employers to over-train numbers of apprentices to fill skills gaps in the supply chain and the wider sector” (page 42)

  • “We have been reforming vocational education and increasing the number of Modern Apprenticeships, hitting new records every year on the road to our target of 30,000 new starts by the end of this parliament.” (page 19)
  • “We believe that the rate paid to 16 to 18 year olds and apprentices should increase in line with changes to the rate of the real Living wage. We will call for the UK government to task the Low Pay Commission to deliver this national pay rise, and to put in place appropriate support for employers.” (page 34)


  • “Aim to double the number of businesses which hire apprentices” (page 31)
  • “Work with the Apprenticeship Advisory Group to increase the number of apprentices from BAME backgrounds, ensure gender balance across industry sectors and encourage under-represented groups to apply.”(page 31)
  • “Ensure that all the receipts from the Apprenticeship Levy in England are spent on training, aiming to fund a wider range of types of training.” (page 31)
  • “Develop the skilled workforce needed to support this growth with a major expansion of high-quality apprenticeships” (Page 41)
  • “Introduce a new Young Person’s Bus Discount Card, for young people aged 16–21, giving a two-thirds discount on bus travel – allowing young people to access education, apprenticeships and work.” (page 63)
  • “Ensuring that every child with Special Educational Needs or Disability has access to a mainstream education, in accordance with the UN Convention for Persons with Disabilities.” (page 13)
  • “Restore Education Maintenance Allowance and enable apprenticeships to all qualified young people aged 16-25.” (page 13)
    • “UKIP will introduce a scheme similar to Germany’s Dual Vocational Training system, in which students attend classes at a vocational school and receive on-the-job training at a company.” (page 25)

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    Hi, I am a student of the University of Manchester studying for Masters in Biomedical Sciences. My background in science has given me a natural need to be inquisitive, reason and debate which developed my love for politics and economics.

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