Updated May 2015
Jobs & Skills
Britain should be aiming to achieve full employment
Full employment means a job for everyone who wants one, including people who are often excluded from the labour market today, such as disabled people, young people and mothers of young children.
Recently, the employment rate has been hitting its highest level since records began in 1971, but we believe it could be higher still. As well as supporting economic growth, full employment is vital to ensuring social inclusion and resilience.
In practice, we propose that
an employment rate of around 80 per cent should be targeted, which would put the UK near the top of OECD rankings
Endorsed by chancellor George Osborne, Mar 2014
Full employment brings wider benefits in terms of increased tax revenues and lower benefit spending, which enables more money to be spent on public services like education and health.
Achieving full employment means
we need to identify and support groups of people who are currently struggling to get and keep work
a job guarantee for people who have been unemployed for more than 12 months
Adopted by Labour, Sep 2011
Creating better jobs that work for employers and employees alike requires deep structural reforms in employment, business and skills policy.
flexible working practices, such as job sharing and income smoothing
Flexible working allows more people to balance work with family and other caring commitments, reducing the number who are kept out of the jobs market by these competing demands.
Flexible work, including part-time work, is an important option for some workers, especially parents, and should be fairly paid and secure.
Paying a fair wage for work provides a just reward to the employee and also reduces overall reliance on benefits and tax credits.
wages for all workers should reflect gains in productivity
This would mean that workers' incomes could outstrip the cost of living in the medium term.
all firms that can afford to should pay the living wage to all their workers, whether they are direct employees or contractors
We support creating a series of living wage zones in major towns and cities to encourage local businesses to pay the living wage and raise productivity.
Adopted by Labour, April 2013
Sharing the benefits and responsibilities of success in the workplace has benefits for both employees and employers.
offering tax breaks to businesses that introduce profit-sharing or employee ownership schemes, so that workers can share in financial success
As well as sharing the financial reward, this kind of 'shared capitalism' can improve productivity by enabling staff to make decisions about how their company works.
Pensions provide a vital means of saving for retirement and for many people are an important part of the reward for their work, but the pensions system is currently too confusing and places all of the risk on an individual's shoulders.
collective defined contribution pensions, which share the risks underlying pension investments and so provide greater security for individual savers
Endorsed by pensions minister Steve Webb, Jan 2014
The UK faces a critical skills challenge, as the forces of globalisation and technological innovation have changed the face of the modern jobs market.
We believe in
widening access to and participation in higher education, including at our world-leading universities
Changes are required to encourage our elite universities to increase the diversity of their student intakes.
a student premium for each student enrolled from a group that is under-represented at Britain's top universities
Traditional higher education is expensive, for individual students, their families, and the public purse. Increasing the variety of higher education options would help more people to access higher education to improve their skills and knowledge.
expanding the higher education market to provide more study options that are part-time, based in local areas and focused on vocational requirements
We also support subsidised loans for postgraduate students.
Endorsed by the chancellor, Dec 2014
To help widen the range of options available, we support
bringing back polytechnics as high-quality, local training and education providers
Increasing variety also includes
encouraging the development of high-quality MOOCs (massive online open courses)
Maximising the potential of MOOCs to increase skills for lots of people means expanding their reach beyond traditional higher education subjects into further education and vocational areas.
For many people, traditional higher education is not the right option, or not available. Unlike in the university system, there is no clear path provided for these people to make a successful transition from school to work.
Apprenticeships provide valuable on-the-job training and an important transition into work for younger people seeking vocational skills. But they are not well suited to developing older workers looking to climb the career ladder or change jobs.
apprenticeships should be reserved for young people under the age of 25, should be at level 3, and should last for at least one year
Endorsed by the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats
Too often, training services are not well matched to the demands of the job market, providing an oversupply of some skills and an undersupply of others. This is a waste of valuable resources and human potential. It also fails to support growth in the UK economy, by holding back innovation and productive improvements.
increasing the involvement of local employers and sector representatives is vital to improving the effectiveness and usefulness of further education and training
significant powers and funding for skills and active labour market programmes should be devolved to local authorities and their city-region partners
With these new powers and resources they could form partnerships between local skills providers and local businesses to enable new approaches to vocational training, apprenticeships, work experience and lifelong learning.
Careers education and guidance can play a crucial role in ensuring a smooth transition from education to work, but it has been badly neglected.
every secondary school should appoint a full-time careers officer, to work with students and local employers, and all students should have face-to-face careers interviews with specialist advisers in year 9 and year 11
We support the National Citizen Service, which gives young people a short time away from home and the chance to take part in a team project that will help their community.
the National Citizen Service should be expanded so that, by 2020, half of all 16 and 17-year-olds are taking part
Endorsed by the prime minister, Oct 2014