Sunderland Echo: Education and skills are not a priority for this government
Sunderland Echo: Education and skills are not a priority for this government

This month, I visited Sunderland College to hear from staff about the opportunities they deliver and from students about their futures.

The college is rooted in the community it serves. It is changing to offer the qualifications of tomorrow as well as today, it’s connected to our local economy and is staffed by people determined to see a better future for learners of all ages, for our community and for our country.

Crucially, like colleges across the country, it is doing extraordinary work in a context which is more challenging than ever.

Because whatever the rhetoric, education and skills are not a priority for this government.

In the last year, we have had five education secretaries. That’s not just a governing party in chaos, it’s a governing party that doesn’t care.

And that failure leaves Britain badly placed to face challenges: low productivity, low wages, inaction on Net Zero.

The renewable age is an opportunity to create secure jobs in our region, tackle the cost of living crisis and protect our home for future generations.

And all the while, the world changes faster than ever: new technologies, industries and competitors.

If we win the next general election, I am determined that Labour will be different.

We will start by ending the tax breaks that private schools enjoy, and we will invest that money in all of our young people.

We will introduce two weeks’ worth of compulsory work experience.

We will recruit over a thousand new careers advisors, placing one in each secondary school and college, and deliver over a million hours of careers guidance to ensure young people leave education ready for work and ready for life.

And we will go further than that. Because tackling the skills shortage Britain faces will be a national mission for Labour.

Institutions like Sunderland College will lead the way. To build the trained workforce we need, to equip the next generation with digital skills, to roll out the fitting of heat pumps, to harness fuels of the future, to ramp up home insulation, to deliver wind and solar power, to move to electric vehicles and much more.

The young people I meet in colleges, in our community and across the country, too often want for many things. But they do not want for ambition, either for themselves, or for our country.

I am determined that the next Labour Government will match that ambition.

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