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News General Election

Stephen Martin's Blog: Education needs to be reformed

22 May 2017

stephen martin director general

It’s now more than a month since Theresa May called the snap general election on the steps of 10 Downing Street. The election campaign is now well underway – the political parties releasing their manifestos last week. Meanwhile, our Policy team here at the IoD has been working on position papers, or ‘minifestos’ as we like to call them, covering a range of policy areas which matter to you most.

Talking of issues that are most important to you, skills immediately springs to my mind. ‘Access to skills’ has been continuously emphasised in the top three concerns as having a negative impact on your organisation in our monthly Policy Voice surveys. With automation looming, demographics changing, and depressingly familiar talk of capping the number of migrant workers prominent, we recognise that the new Government will have to do more to ensure that home-grown workers have the appropriate skills to adapt to the changing world of work.

On Tuesday we launched our minifesto Education for an Evolving Economy, which addresses those issues. The key thing that we are urging the next Government to do is to introduce new incentives for training that would boost the skills of workers dramatically. The most effective first steps would be granting businesses an enhanced tax deduction for qualifying training courses and introducing a top up on the income tax personal allowance for individuals who want to increase their skills and re-train to change industries.  

We are also calling for the Apprenticeship Levy to be reformed to allow employers and the self-employed more flexibility. Apprenticeships are not always the most appropriate form of training to meet an individual’s or firm’s needs – employers should be therefore given the right to utilise their Levy contributions to provide other forms of training. 

Taking in consideration all the challenges facing the next Government, the IoD urges the next governing party to avoid unnecessary distractions such as creating extra grammar schools and instead focus on more pressing concerns facing schools such as tackling the teacher shortage crisis, which threatens to have a detrimental effect on the skills pipeline for employers.  

Mandatory work-experience should also be introduced, so does access to a full-time career coach for all pupils and collaboration between companies and education establishments should be improved to ensure that all young individuals are prepared for the world of work. 

We of course realise that the issues you care about are not limited to fixing the skills gap – our proposals on tax reform and corporate governance were published last week. Over the next two weeks we will be addressing priorities for Brexit, trade and labour mobility, future of work, local growth, and energy infrastructure to ensure the voice of business is heard during this election campaign and beyond.

Interested in finding out more? 

Visit our General Election hub here and get involved in the conversation on Twitter #IoDElection  

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