320,000 new climate apprenticeships would close skills gap, Corbyn tells CBI

Sienna Rodgers
©️ Chris McAndrew/CC BY 3.0

Labour would deliver 320,000 new climate apprenticeships during its first term in government to close the UK skills gap, Jeremy Corbyn is set to announce in a key speech on Monday.

Addressing the CBI, Britain’s most important business lobby organisation, the Labour leader will outline a fresh promise to reform the apprenticeship levy in a way that will “better meet the needs of workers and employers”.

Labour plans to implement these changes while tackling the climate emergency. The party would create a climate apprenticeship programme aiming to provide 320,000 apprenticeships in England during its first term, and 886,000 in total by 2030.

The new policy is designed both to expand Labour’s green industrial revolution programme and to address the problem of Britain’s skills shortage – upskilling the UK workforce to allow UK companies to compete in the global green economy worth $4tn.

Unveiling Labour’s scheme at the CBI, Jeremy Corbyn is expected to say: “Labour’s green industrial revolution will be a central motor of the party’s plans to transform our country and economy, using public investment to create good, clean jobs, tackle the climate emergency and rebuild held back towns, cities and communities.

“Climate apprenticeships will offer training to school leavers and workers looking to change jobs mid-career, creating the engineers, technicians and construction workers we need to transition to a green economy.

“This election is our last chance to tackle the climate emergency. The Tories have failed to invest in our economy, failed to deliver apprenticeships and failed to face up to the climate emergency. Labour will deliver real change.”

Labour says the new apprenticeships will be funded by diverting 25% of the funds that big employers – those with a pay bill above £3m – already set aside through the apprenticeship levy, “topped up by any dividends over the cap paid into Labour’s inclusive ownership funds”.

The latter source of funding comes from the IOFs plan revealed by Labour in 2018, which would see companies with over 250 employees transfer shares to an ownership fund controlled by workers. They would be entitled to shareholder dividends up to a cap of £500 per employee.

Labour has already announced that in government it would create a ‘green transformation fund‘ providing £250bn over ten years, with the aim of investing in new infrastructure and green technologies to meet its ambitious decarbonisation target.

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