Significant skills shortages are emerging in important sectors of our economy. At the same time, tens of thousands of young Scots are not in education, employment or training (NEET). We need to do more to support this group of disadvantaged and often disaffected young people, with a big expansion of the vocational education opportunities in our schools and colleges. We need to make the most of the hidden talent in Scotland. At the same time we need to support our students and further and higher education sectors.
That’s why we want to see:
more links between business and our schools to help develop a real culture of entrepreneurship in our young people.
our colleges and schools working far more closely together to give a higher priority to vocational courses.
an increase in modern apprenticeships.
the graduate endowment abolished and top-up fees opposed.
Looking to skills and training, the Liberal Democrats recognise the need to do more to support the young Scots that are not in education, employment or training. Colleges would be encouraged to work far more closely with schools and a higher priority would be given to vocational courses.
To achieve these aims the Liberal Democrats would commit to a three per cent per year real terms increase to further education funding over the next spending review. They would also commit to pilot new business incubators in schools and further education colleges.
The Liberal Democrats would support the call from Universities Scotland to increase investment in Scottish universities by an extra £168 million by the end of the next term of the Scottish Parliament.
A Liberal Democrat First Minister would ensure that Scottish graduates no longer had to pay the graduate endowment. The Liberal Democrats would also increase the level of bursaries given to the poorest students above inflation.
A National Widening Access Unit would be established to increase the numbers of students from poorer backgrounds in higher education.