Both the Conservatives and the Labour party have now published their election manifestos. The Conservatives (http://bit.ly/1IZDax4) have confirmed their commitment to create 3 million new apprenticeships during the next Parliament and to introduce a Youth Allowance for 18 to 21 year olds as part of an ambition to eradicate long-term youth unemployment. No new proposals were included on programmes for further reducing adult unemployment. National Colleges would be used to improve further education while the number of UTCs would be expanded. Previous commitments on Growth Deals and backing LEPs were restated.

Labour’s manifesto (http://bit.ly/1H02wMw) confirmed that a Labour government would refocus Apprenticeship funding towards a system ‘where Apprenticeships are focused on new job entrants, lasting at least two years, and providing level three qualifications or above’. The party promised a replacement of the Work Programme ‘at a more local level’. Under Labour, there would be an English Devolution Act which would transfer £30bn of funding to city and county regions and new powers over employment and skills.