Labour is warning that Conservative failures on further education are leading to rising vacancies in key industries such as health and care while the number of further education students in these subjects in declining.

New data has revealed there were 133,000 vacancies in health and social work from February to April this year while information and communication industries had 41,000 vacancies. This has followed a steady rise in vacancies over the last decade, with the health sector in particular seeing vacancies more than double from the same quarter in 2011.

In contrast, Labour analysis shows the number of students in these subjects is declining with healthcare apprentice numbers falling by over 50,000 since 2015 and overall health and care further education student numbers falling by over 153,000 in the past three years, with information and communication technology student numbers falling by over 52,000 during the same period.

Under the Conservatives, spending on adult education and apprenticeships has fallen by more than a third since 2009/10.

These figures have been published ahead of a speech by Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, to the World Skills Conference in Dudley, where she will highlight that the Government’s Queen’s Speech missed the opportunity to reverse this trend, and call on Minister’s to heed Labour’s call for a jobs promise to guarantee education or employment opportunities for young people.

Labour’s jobs promise would provide quality training, education or employment opportunities for young people who have been out of work, education or training for six months. Alongside this, Labour’s plan for a green economic recovery would create 400,000 secure jobs in low-carbon industries across the country such as steel and the automotive industry, creating new employment prospects.

To create opportunities in response to the pandemic, Labour has called on Ministers to use the underspend from the apprenticeships levy to create an apprentice wage subsidy and boost opportunities. Last year this could have created 85,000 new apprenticeship opportunities for young people aged 16 – 24.

Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:

“The Conservatives’ failures on education are translating into serious skills shortages for across our public services and economy: as vacancies within crucial services such as NHS and social care have risen, student numbers have declined.

“The Government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee and apprenticeships incentive are compounding this failure, excluding millions of jobs and failing to create the opportunities our country needs.

“Labour is calling for Ministers to put skills and further education at the heart of our pandemic recovery with an apprenticeship wage subsidy and jobs promise to give opportunities to every young person.”

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