Top Of The Policies – skills (17 January 2012)



No.2: Anthony Painter – Create a new high quality technical education offer for those aged 14+

No.3  (JOINT) : Amanda Ramsay – To start a national Skills Mentoring Scheme (SMS)

and Allan Graveson – Fiscal incentives for training

Policy in the pub –

2 minute policy ideas for the future of UK skills

A joint event with


CHAIR: Michael White – Assistant Editor, The Guardian




WHEN? 6.30pm-8.30pm, TUESDAY 17 JANUARY

WHERE? THE BARLEY MOW (pub), 104 Horseferry Road, Westminster, London, SW1P 2EE ***In upstairs function room***

5-10 Mins walking distance from Parliament


SPEAKERS: Introduction from Sue Ferns (Chair, Unions21) and John Slinger (Editor, Pragmatic Radicalism).

Winner Announced by Tom Wilson (Director, unionlearn).

PRIZES FOR TOP POLICIES (kindly donated by GMB Southern Region).



Josie Cluer – Pragmatic Radicalism contributer and former Labour Special Adviser

Match unemployed graduates to jobseekers who lack basic skills

Britain has a basic skills crisis: 5m people are not able to read and
write, damaging their prospects in employment and in life. At the same
time, we have 100,000 unemployed graduates. We should set up a scheme
to match volunteer graduates to job-seekers who need help in learning
basic skills.  Job seekers without basic skills could improve their skills and graduates could build a bank of experience to help them get

Van Coulter – Councillor and Executive Member for Leisure, Oxford City Council

Opportunities for the UK workforce through expansion of renewable energy generation

As a nation, we have committed to providing at least fifteen per cent of our energy needs through solar PV. However, as a nation we are facing a significant shortage of skilled installation engineers needed to make good this commitment. Providing robust skills training will enable many tens of thousands people to enter a career with prestige and a career with a lasting future, whilst stimulating and greening our economy.

Parmjit Dhanda – Former MP, former Minister, Parliamentary and Campaigns Officer of Prospect Union

Businesses playing a greater role in university education

It’s time for sandwich courses, where a year in industry as part of an undergraduate degree becomes standard for university courses, rather than an exception. Business needs to play a bigger role in developing skilled labour and also make a contribution toward reducing student debt through the provision of a year of paid work, as part of a degree.

John Edmonds – Researcher and environmentalist

Training to prepare companies for the transition to a low carbon future

Within the next twenty years we need to transform our economy so that we use resources more efficiently and reduce carbon emissions. My idea for developing a new agenda for skills is that every company should hold a half day training session for all their staff each year at which the company’s plan for reducing carbon emissions and increasing resource efficiency will be presented and discussed.  This should be followed by a discussion of the training that will be required to deliver the plan.

This process will put pressure on companies to consider what the transition to a low carbon economy will mean to them, will involve the staff in identifying the necessary measures and training needs and will raise the awareness of environmental issues throughout the UK’s workforce.

Allan Graveson – Senior National Secretary, Nautilus International

Fiscal incentives for training

The Corporation Tax system could be used to incentivise training. This may require credits where tax liabilities are low in a particular year. Tax Allowance set according to course/qualification and number. Alternatively to Corporation Tax, sector specific schemes similar to ‘Tonnage Tax’ in the shipping sector with penalty payments for non-training. This avoids complex inaccessible and wasteful funding schemes that favour low value/low skill employment. This should be for the long term, i.e. at least 10 years. This should be included in Company Annual Accounts.

Jake Hayman– Director, Future First

An alumni network for every state school in the country

Access to relevant and relatable role models is crucial for a young person’s development and has a central role to play in inspiring young people and ultimately increasing social mobility. 39% of 16 to 19 year olds who went to a state school do not know anyone in a career in which they would like to work. To this end, we propose the creation of alumni networks for every state school in Britain. Former students are relatable role models, who can raise awareness of the key skills needed in real jobs and motivate current students to take the initiative in developing these skills.

Alexandra Kemp – Coordinator, Women’s Income Network / Chief Executive, West Norfolk Women and Carers’ Pensions Network

Autonomy Skills for a Powerful Workforce

Inequality drives  the longevity and healthy lifespan gap. Wages drive inequality. Low wages thrive in jobs of low support, low value, and low autonomy. The answer is to incentivise all workplaces to offer autonomy training from day 1 to transform the capability, estimation involvement and reward for every worker. We could run a railroad through workforce inequality in a generation!

Denise Linay – Royal College of Midwives

It doesn’t add up

Midwives are often required to do complex drug calculations but mention numeracy and a haze descends. Our policy idea seeks to cultivate an environment  where   numeracy skills  are valued and not just seen as the province of those undertaking a skills for  life qualification.

Paul Moloney – Shipping Consultant, First Actuarial

We need to ensure jobs deliver skill based training

We would like to make the case for a much greater emphasis in the UK on skills being taught as an integral part of the work someone does. We therefore will make the argument that dedicated stand alone training, such as cadetships and apprenticeships are outdated and do not deliver the right skills needed. In addition they present training as unproductive and expensive for many employers.

Mike Morgan-Giles – Political communications consultant and writer @mgonthemike

Bringing accountability and transparency to the skills agenda

The Government, rightly or wrongly, has commited to a private sector led economic recovery. However, while many of these private firms happily take public money for providing services, they fail to be held to account in the same way as public bodies. The methods they use to upskill their workforces often therefore remain a mystery, and to change this we need to extend the Freedom of Information Act.

Anthony Painter – Political writer; chairman of Hackney University Technical College

Create a new high quality technical education offer for those aged 14+

The purpose of education is to equip students with the capabilities to thrive socially, economically and intellectually in the world around them. A hybrid and high-quality academic, technical, personal and work-linked curriculum should exist alongside the traditional pure play academic route. It should be taught in University Technical Colleges and within specialist schools, offer progression to higher education or employment and be delivered in partnership with employers. Student strengths are varied and so should the education system be: status and quality however must be universal. A new high quality technical education offer faces this reality.

Amanda Ramsay – former London Councillor and Cabinet Member

To start a national Skills Mentoring Scheme (SMS)

Labour would start national register of experts and organisations, giving of their time, advice and expertise (and donations to part-fund scheme) to help as mentors, setting-up opportunities to access on-the-job skills for CV-building, through structured work experience, for young people and those re-training for career change. Headline grabbing ideas as well as bread and butter opportunities, from hard to access industries like music, media and film as well as the more traditional working arenas found in most towns and cities, teaching, shadowing a lawyer or legal secretary, catering, gardening, you name it, virtually all workplaces should feature.

John Slinger – Chair of Pragmatic Radicalism; strategic communications consultant

QE for Skills & online Skills Bank

If the Government / Bank of England can print £275bn to aid the banking sector, it should be possible to print vouchers for all adults of working age which are redeemable for any kind of vocational training. Such vouchers could be cashed not only at training institutions, but also at a newly-created online ‘Skills Bank’ which links people with skills and experience with new entrants to the jobs market or the unemployed. I.e. people in work would be incentivised to contribute their experience.

Tom Tàbori – Branch Secretary, Kentish Town Labour Party
Broaching the skills gap
The ‘skills shortage’ is used as an excuse by companies who do not want to train up young people themselves. Free apprentices would remove this excuse and encourage them to recruit from their community, paid for by diverting the corporate interest in academies to where it is better suited: the education-employment skills gap.

Jane Thomas – Friends of the Earth

Building a new economy around green technologies

Repairing the public finances can be achieved by creating jobs and growth through building a “new economy” around green technologies and creating business opportunities as part of our third industrial revolution. University funding and R and D support must be geared more to the development of high end  specialised green technologies such as  electric cars and second generation wind & solar energy systems. And accredited skills development programmes delivered by FE colleges could help local communities to source local energy production (wind, water, anaebolic digesters).

Jonathan Todd – consultant at Europe Economics; economic columnist at Labour Uncut; associate editor of last year’s Pragmatic Radicalism: Ideas from Labour’s New Generation publication

Integrate skills funding with local economic development

Responsibility for skills funding should be devolved to re-energised Employment and Skills Boards that would bring together employers, trade unions and political leaders to ensure that skills are hardwired into local economic development strategies.

Dan Whittle – Director, Unions21

Using the lever of local government procurement to apply good practice in learning

As more public services leave direct local authority control the potential to use the contracts we make with service providers as a lever for social good grows. Ed Miliband proposed that the next Labour Government would link public procurement contracts with taking on apprentices – in the meantime Labour in local government can and should go much further.


If you have a policy idea you’d like to present email or use the comment function below.

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@PragRad #TopOfThePolicies

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