Monday, April 20, 2009

Pledge on science skills, training and apprenticeships wins warm welcome.

“This is good news for apprenticeships and those looking for retraining. However, I welcome in particular the plans to help postgraduates," said Cambridge's Conservative Parliamentary Spokesman, Richard Normington as he welcomed the £600 million package of Conservative measures. He added,

“Postgraduates are the often overlooked key to the success of our higher education sector. By strengthening this section at a crucial time, the Conservative plan will keep British universities at the forefront of research for years to come.”

Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, announced the move, saying: “If we do not act now in the Budget we are going to lose the next generation of engineers and scientists. The Budget must help the thousands of graduates and people on apprenticeships so they are not scarred for life.

Shadow Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, David Willetts, added: "It is young people above all who are the victim's of Labour's recession. We are offering new hope to apprentices worried about losing their training and university leavers who cannot find a job."

Details of the Conservative Plans for science skills, training and apprenticeships:

  1. £350 million to provide funding for 25,000 new Masters Degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at an average of £14,000 each. This would help the many thousands of graduates leaving university who will struggle to find work when they finish their courses this summer. Instead of losing the next generation of scientists and engineers to long term youth unemployment we need to make sure there are funded places for them to continue their studies. The Royal Society says this policy “could potentially transform the landscape for postgraduate scientific research”
  2. £100 million to fund an extra 50,000 learners aged over 25 in STEM and other subjects. Tens of thousands of low skilled people over 25 without the equivalent of 2 A-levels will lose their jobs over the next year and be unable to find work. This funding will allow them to improve their skills, mainly in Further Education colleges, instead of slipping into long term unemployment.
  3. £150 million to support the thousands of apprentices that risk losing their training place during a recession. There is clear evidence that thousands of young apprentices are suffering particularly badly during the recession. At the moment that often means they can't complete their apprenticeships and end up with no qualification at all. The TUC have called on the Government to “ensure that any apprentice can complete their training and stay in work”. This new funding would be used to establish a clearing house to transfer apprentices to other employers and to pay for maintenance payments and training places if alternative apprenticeships are unavailable.
The pledge is affordable so long as the government adopts the Conservative budget proposals.
20th April 2009

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