The Liberal Democrats have set out their vision for a “new era of learning throughout life” with the creation of an ambitious Skills Wallet. This will give every adult £10,000 to spend on education and training throughout their lives.
A Liberal Democrat Government will put £4,000 into people’s ‘Skills Wallet’ at 25, £3,000 at 40 and another £3,000 at 55. The grants have been designed to encourage saving towards the costs of education and training throughout adult life.
Individuals, their employers and local government will be able to make additional payments into the wallets. Access to free careers guidance will also be provided.
Liberal Democrat PPC for Birmingham Ladywood, Lee Dargue, said:
“As both a student and teacher of lifelong learning, I know how valuable re-skilling and up-skilling can be to people – especially those who wish to change career paths.
“Long-gone are the days of ‘jobs for life’ – and for many people and businesses, this is welcome. Variety in jobs, as in life, can give a fantastic range of experience to people, to help them deal with the challenges of life, outside of work, better.
“This long-standing commitment of Lib Dems, to invest in and support adult education, will help to support people in learning new skills, and entering new careers – sometimes within the same workplace. For business, cross-training of staff can bring real benefits to productivity.
“This is a real liberal approach – using government support to aide people in helping them choose their own directions in life and work. When it comes to work and career choices, the state should support, but people should decide.”
Liberal Democrat Shadow Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary, Sam Gyimah, said:
“Working hard should mean secure work and a decent income, but for too many people that’s not the case. In an ever changing workplace people often need to develop new skills, but the cost of courses and qualifications shuts too many people out.
“Neither the Conservatives and Labour have the answers to these challenges. They are stuck pursuing 20th-century policies that simply won’t work in our 21st-century economy. They would take our country backwards.
“Only the Liberal Democrats have a real plan to build a fairer economy and a brighter future. We will create a new era of learning throughout adult life with Skills Wallets for every individual, providing them with £10,000 to spend on education and training at various stages of their lives.
“By stopping Brexit and investing in our Skills Wallets, Liberal Democrats will empower people to develop new skills so that they can thrive in the technologies and industries that are key to the UK’s economic future and prosperity.”
Individuals can choose how and when to spend this money on a range of approved education and training courses – only those from regulated providers and monitored by the Office for Students.
Industry will be closely involved in the programme: working with government to identify the need for particular skills and to evaluate and certify courses.
This policy will come in in 2021-22, to give time to consult on it and ensure it is implemented effectively. Liberal Democrats will pay for it by reversing the Conservatives’ unnecessary and expensive cuts to Corporation Tax and return the rate to 20%, where it stood in 2016.
Education is fully devolved, so this policy applies to England only. However, under the Barnett formula extra funding will be made available to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.