Jeremy Corbyn has set out plans for the creation of a “National Education Service”, which he claims would help tackle inequality and improve the life chances of millions of workers.
Writing for LabourList last week, the Labour leadership candidate says that, like the NHS, a National Education Service would be universal and “free at the point of use”.
It would start with free universal childcare and expand to include adult education. Mr Corbyn claims this would reverse “grossly irresponsible” cuts to further education made by George Osborne.
The radical initiative would be funded through “extra tax revenues from those in work and productivity gains”; a 2% increase to Corporation Tax would allow for the reversal of cuts to the adult skills budget, while higher tax revenues would be brought about “by a high skill, high productivity and high pay economy”.
“A National Education Service will give working age people access throughout their lives to learn new skills or to re-train”, said Mr Corbyn.
“It should also work with Jobcentre Plus to offer claimants opportunities to improve their skills, rather than face the carousel of workfare placements, sanctions and despair.”
Mr Corbyn accused unscrupulous employers of “using apprenticeships and traineeships as a means of circumventing minimum wage legislation”. If elected as Labour Party leader, Mr Corbyn says he would end the “poverty rates” of apprenticeship wages – just £2.73 per hour.
And colleges would be encouraged to work “in partnership” with employers, “to mutually accredit apprenticeships and courses that offer high quality transferable skills”.
Mr Corbyn said: “A National Education Service for lifelong learning is the logical next step for Labour and for our country. We are the party that established the Open University, introduced Sure Start, and now we must go further.
“To become a high skill, high pay, high productivity nation we need to invest in education throughout people’s working lives – that is path to prosperity for all.
“In a fast-changing world where new technology is making new industries and making others obsolete, we need a National Education Service that offers new skills and understanding throughout our working lives.”
“Education is not about personal advancement but is a collective good that benefits our society and our economy. We all benefit from a more educated and skilled workforce – and that is why it is right to commit to invest in every child and every worker.”
Welcoming these plans, Clive Lewis MP said: “Education is the most valuable resource we have, yet this government is allowing our schools and Sure Start centres to be asset-stripped and privatised by stealth.
“Jeremy’s idea for a National Education Service is rooted in Labour values of social justice, universalism, and co-operation. It is exactly what our country needs to prosper, and another example of why Jeremy is the best candidate to take our party forward.”
— Jeremy Corbyn for PM (@JeremyCorbyn4PM) August 3, 2015
Speaking at an event in London today (Monday), Mr Corbyn urged his supporters to spread a ‘message of hope’ and called for a strong welfare state to help end poverty.
He also criticised hateful ‘scrounger’ rhetoric used by the media and others, and vowed to never use the term when describing unemployed or disabled people.