2015 Manifestos

The general election is on its way and the heat is on! This Is It has gone through the task of skimming the leading parties’ manifestos for you in order to unearth their policies on youth unemployment and the creative sector.

What is a political manifesto? Well, a manifesto pretty much acts as a written promise from a party to their voters-it works to give voters a clear understanding of what they stand for and what changes they intend to implement during their turn in office.

Polls are currently inclining towards a similar result to the last election, with another hung parliament on the cards. At a time like this the manifestos hold great importance in not only addressing each party’s stand on various issues, but in  informing fellow parties that they may end up going into a coalition with, about the dominant policies they will not budge on and those they are able to compromise on. Coalition compromise has caused a stir in the past – as the saying goes ‘rules are meant to be broken’. One recent account is Nick Clegg’s retraction of his pledge to abolish tuition fees, a decision that caused many to feel disenchanted.

Under Tony Blair, Labour created a flag ship policy which set out to increase participation of under 30’s in higher learning to 50%. The intent was to make Britain a learning society by putting in place a system that favoured higher education. The policy saw the introduction of ‘non-traditional students’ those from lower social economic backgrounds, ethnic minorities, mature students and an increase in female applicants. In addition, many first generation university students were introduced to HE under the Further and Higher Education Act. However, as time went on, the vocational career path became neglected and the degree began to lose value which is why there is heavy emphasis on re-establishing the importance of vocational training in all parties’ 2015 manifestos.

Conservatives and Labour have put forward the idea of technical degrees: a combination of a degree with an apprenticeship, whilst Lib Dem, Ukip and the Green party have made a promise to increase vocational training institutions and the volume of apprenticeships. I wonder if in their rush to obtain votes, they’ve considered these key questions.

Can they realistically match employer with apprentice on such a large scale? How will they implement quality control on the apprenticeships they intend to offer?  It’s all well and good creating a supply of apprenticeships for a market in demand of qualified staff, but if the quality of the supply doesn’t quite cut the mustard then the issue the policy addresses will never be fully solved. Without a strong logistical plan, the increase in apprenticeships will end up being a futile effort on positive change, “quality over quantity” is a must.

After the last recession the job market was hit hard and the group most affected was young people: school leavers and graduates. This issue is still a great concern at present, many are still caught in a catch 22 situation of needing experience to qualify for a job but not receiving a job offer due to a lack of experience. Studies have shown that the longer a young person spends unemployed, the more likely they are to spend time out of work in the future, and the higher the chance they have of receiving a lower wage, these are worrying revelations. Let’s have a look below at the top 5 parties’ policies on youth unemployment and the arts.

 

 

 Top 10 pledges from each party

 

Conservatives 10  key pledges:

  1. Ensure there is a university technical college within reach of every city

  2. Create more degree apprenticeships which will allow a combination of a world-class degree with a world class apprenticeship

  3. Graduates won’t have to pay back their tuition fees until they earn over £21,000

  4. Introduction of a national postgraduate loan system for taught masters and PhD courses

  5. Encouragement of development of online education tools for students, whether studying independently or in universities

  6. Ensure a tax-free minimum wage

  7. Use money saved in reducing the benefits cap to fund 3 million apprenticeships

  8. Triple the number of start-up loans to businesses to 75,000

  9. Make sure all young people are either in learning or earning

  10. Help business to create two million new jobs

The Arts:

  • Keep major national museums and galleries free to enter

  • Support creative industries and defend a free media

  • Support great exhibitions in the north
  • Help public libraries to support local communities by providing wifi and e-book access without charge  and with appropriate compensation for authors that enhance the public lending right scheme

  • Set challenging targets for Visit Britain and Visit England to ensure more visitors travel outside the capital

 

 Labours 10  key pledges:

  1. Raise minimum wage to more than £8p/h by October  2019

  2. Ban exploitative zero-hours contracts

  3. Creation of  new technical degrees (technical baccalaureates) and support of part-time study for 16-18 year olds

  4. Transform high performing further education colleges with strong links to industry, into new specialist institutes of technical education

  5. Introduction of a new independent system of careers advice, offering personalised face-to-face guidance on routes into university and apprenticeships

  6. Make work pay contracts-will give tax rebates to business who sign up to paying the living wage

  7. Tackle unpaid internships

  8. Replace out of work benefits for 18-21 year olds with a new youth allowance (payment depends on recipient  being in training and targeted at those who need it most)

  9. Guaranteed job for under 25’s unemployed for over a year and for adults unemployed over two years, paid for by taxing bankers’ bonuses

  10. Cut university tuition fees to £6,000 a year

The Arts:

  • Continuation of universal free admission to national museums and galleries

  • Increase of apprenticeships in the creative industries

  • Creation of a prime minister’s committee on the arts, culture and creative industries

 

 Liberal Democrats 10  key pledges

  1. A “yellow card” to give people a warning before benefits are withdrawn

  2. Ring Fence the education budget for 2-19 year olds

  3. Expand apprenticeships and develop national colleges for vocational skills

  4. Bring in votes for 16-year-olds, and the Single Transferable Vote system for local and national elections

  5. Ensure that Jobcentre Plus advisers take a longer-term view, measuring success on sustained employment outcomes 13 and 26 weeks after a claimant leaves benefits

  6. Develop tailored toolkit for advisors to guide them on which particular type of support would work best for different types of claimants

  7. Explore the option of allowing job centres to reward those advisors who are most successful at moving people into work

  8. Improve enforcement action and clamp down on abuses by employers seeking to avoid paying the minimum wage by reviewing practices such as unpaid internships

  9. Require larger employers (with more than 250 employees) to publish details of the number of employees being paid below the Living Wage and the ratio between top and median pay

  10. Make it the absolute norm for all businesses to take on and train up young people as apprentices

 

Ukip 10  key pledges

 

  1. No tax on the minimum wage

  2. Enforce the minimum wage and reverse the Government cuts in the number of minimum wage inspectors in both England and Wales

  3. Allow existing schools to become grammar schools, and other establishments to become vocational schools or colleges similar to those promoted in Germany and The Netherlands

  4. Introduce an option for students to take an apprenticeship qualification instead of four non-core GCSEs

  5. Drop the arbitrary 50 per cent target for school leavers going to university

  6. Increase the current level of undergraduate courses until there are sufficient vacancies in the economy to provide at least two-thirds of students with skilled graduate jobs

  7. Encourage students to choose careers that will help fill the current skills’ gap

  8. Students taking approved degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM), mainly at universities funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, will not have to repay their tuition fees, on condition that they work in their discipline and pay tax in the UK for at least five years, after they complete their degrees

  9. Introduce a legally binding Code of Conduct stipulating the following: Businesses hiring 50 people or more must give workers on zero-hours contracts either a full or part-time secure contract

  10. Allow employers to prioritise British citizens for jobs

The Arts/Heritage:

  • Creating a dedicated Minister of State for Heritage and Tourism, attached to the Cabinet Office
  • Ensuring tax and planning policies support historic buildings and the countryside
  • Removing VAT completely from repairs to listed building
  • Encourage regenerative arts projects into our coastal towns.

 

 

Green Party 10  key pledges

  1. End austerity and restore the public sector, creating jobs that pay at least a living wage

  2. End workfare – where the unemployed must work for benefits

  3. Scrap university tuition fees

  4. Increase the minimum wage to £10 per hour by 2020

  5. Ban “exploitative” zero-hours contracts

  6. Introduce a maximum 35-hour working week

  7. Provide an apprenticeship to all qualified young people aged 16-19

  8. Extend funding to apprenticeships by 30%

  9. Restore education maintenance allowance for 16-17 year olds

  10. Provide the further education sector with £1.5 billion a year extra funding

The Arts:

  • Tighten the rules on cross-media ownership and ensure that no individual  or company owns more than 20% of a media market

  • Increase government arts funding by £500 million a year

  • Reduce VAT to 5% for live performances

  • Support fair pay productions in the arts

  • Support initiatives to make the arts accessible to all

  • Ensure that all have digital access and telecommunication operators provide affordable high-speed broadband to every household and small business

 

 

Let’s hope that the policies essential to the improvement on the  issues of youth unemployment and support of the creative sector, are bought forward as priorities and not left on the back burner. To quote a legendary Whitney Houston lyric “I believe that children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way”. By  investing in the youth of today, our future as a society will be a brighter one. We have a rapidly ageing populous, so it’s paramount that politicians work in haste to secure the best education, training, and progressive career paths for young  people. The general elections are on Thursday 7 May, make sure you find out where your local polling station is located and  make your vote count! After all- it’s your future.

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