By Nick Tyrone

The calling of the general election came without warning and now here we are, just shy of a fortnight away from the country going to the polls to decide who will represent them in parliament. The Jobs Foundation exists to champion business as a societal good and jobs as a route out of poverty, so we are therefore interested in what the major parties are offering voters on our issues. What do each of the national party manifestos say about getting people into work and best practice on training?

The Tory plan around apprenticeships is to create 100,000 new ones for young people, paid for by curbing “poor quality” degrees. They will also boost training places for clinicians in the NHS, in particular for dentists and other dental care professionals. The Conservatives have a plan to open up civil service recruitment by requiring all jobs to be advertised externally.

Getting people out of poverty and into jobs will be done with a carrot and stick approach: the Tories will maintain a national living wage, meaning the minimum wage will rise with inflation, always staying at two-thirds of the country’s median salary. On the other hand, they will introduce tougher sanctions for those on benefits by cutting people off if they refuse to take up employment after a year on the dole. Labour plans to create jobs through the setting up of GB Energy, the nationalised green energy company, as well as seeing 1.5 million new homes built across the parliament via planning reform; if this target is met, it would create a huge number of jobs in the construction sector.

Labour will also offer a “youth guarantee” to all people in Britain between 18 and 21, meaning everyone in that age range will be given access to training, apprenticeships or whatever support they require in looking for work. There will be a “Teacher Training Entitlement”, meaning teachers can stay up to date with evolving best practice. They want to reform of the apprenticeship levy to make it easier to access. The Liberal Democrats will look to encourage employers to promote employee ownership by giving staff in listed companies with more than 250 employees a right to request shares, to be held in trust for the benefit of employees. They also want to replace the apprenticeship levy altogether with a “broader and more flexible skills and training levy”. They want to boost the take-up of apprenticeships by guaranteeing they are paid at least the National Minimum Wage by scrapping the lower apprentice rate. The Lib Dems aim to improve the quality of vocational education by strengthening careers advice and links with employers in schools and colleges.

Reform want to spend £20 billion on training and apprenticeships for young people, raised from putting NI on foreign workers up to 20%. They want to offer tax relief to companies that employ apprenticeships and mandate that all job seekers must take up a job within four months or lose their benefits.

One thing that comes across in every manifesto is the idea that business is good and that jobs truly are the best route out of poverty. The Jobs Foundations and our issues will remain central to the political conversation, whoever is in government on July 5th.