The EU referendum result was a vote for change, and it is for politicians to listen and act accordingly. Some of the research has shown that many Leave voters felt that globalisation had not delivered good opportunities for them and they wanted to see change.
One policy area we should look at is how to equip young people and adults, in every part of our country, to respond to the modern world of work and keep their skills up to date.
The introduction of T-Levels (a technical alternative to A-Levels) is an important step in providing young people with high quality routes beyond university. I hope that the Government will work with organisations, such as the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) to communicate their value to employers.
The Government has rightly reformed apprenticeships in order to both increase the quality and quantity available. However, since the apprenticeship levy was introduced, the number of apprenticeship starts has fallen. Many businesses treat the levy as a ‘tax’. There should be greater flexibility so that levy account holders can pass on levy funds down a supply chain and work with other levy payers to plug local skills gaps.
The minimum funding level per 16-19 student in the national funding formula is set to remain at £4,000 until 2019-20, which is currently £600 lower than the funding rate for secondary school pupils. Meanwhile, the maximum university tuition fee is £9,250.
English universities are being sufficiently funded, participation rates keep increasing and more disadvantaged students are going to university in England than ever before.
Shifting the focus to further education is the right thing to do. That is why I am a keen supporter of the brand new Gloucestershire College Campus in Cinderford, which will enable local students to get the skills they need to fulfil their potential.
Whilst Labour is pushing for the abolition of tuition fees, which benefits the most privileged parts of society-graduates, Conservatives should ensure that the less privileged can enter the workforce and keep their skills up to date.