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Britain can’t afford another lost decade says Jeremy Corbyn

July 5th, 2017
Author: Economic Voice Staff

Tomorrow (Thursday 6th July 2017), Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party, will give a speech to the British Chamber of Commerce about building a high-skill economy for the many not the few.

After laying out the Conservative record of a lost decade for the economy with low investment, low growth and low productivity, Jeremy will set out the role education must play to boost productivity and dynamism across the economy.

In his speech, Jeremy will set out in detail Labour’s plans for a National Education Service, which “will be the key institution of fairness and prosperity for the 21st Century, just as the NHS transformed people’s prospects in the 20th century.”

He will focus on the impact of rapid technological change, saying that it “can’t be left to the market”. Jeremy will argue that to manage technological change so that it benefits the many not the few, “we need public institutions, public investment and public enterprise to work with business”. He will also argue that technological change requires a renewed focus on skills and training to “make sure everyone is able to retrain at any point in life to meet the changing needs of the economy” and present Labour’s “flagship commitment to make all further education courses free at the point of use for everyone at any stage of their lives.

Jeremy Corbyn By Rwendland 2 (CC-BY-SA-4.0)

By Rwendland 2 (CC-BY-SA-4.0)

On the lost decade of Conservative economic failure that the next Labour government will have to fix, Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party, will say:

Britain has been living through a lost decade. A decade of lost growth. A decade of stagnant living standards. A decade when investment and productivity fell so far that it takes a worker five days to produce what takes four days in  Germany and France. Britain can't afford another lost decade.

"We have investment levels are described by the Governor of the Bank of England as “markedly weak”.

"We have productivity that lags far behind our main competitors and that fell further behind on yesterday’s official statistics.

"We have an explosion of low-paid, insecure jobs – the Bank of England’s Chief Economist has now said that 7% of the entire workforce could be on zero hours contracts within a decade.

"We’ve had a period of lost wage growth and falling real terms pay that the Institute of Fiscal Studies describes as “completely unprecedented”.

"We have unsecured household debt rising to record levels.

"And now we have economic growth that has slowed to just 0.2% in the latest quarter – the worst in the G7.

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On Labour’s plans to drive up productivity and dynamism in the economy through a National Education Service, Jeremy Corbyn will say:

Labour has set out a vision to change our society, to invest in our economy – and right at the heart of that vision is education.

"It is education that will drive up productivity, increase our economic dynamism and allow our businesses to compete on the world stage.

"It is by investing in our education system that we can end the spread of low-paid, low-skilled, insecure work by providing the skilled workforce that businesses need if they are to create high-skilled, better-paid jobs.

"And there is a payback for the government too in building a labour market in which work makes ends meet  in higher revenues from income tax and national insurance and lower payments in tax credits and housing benefit.

"It is through education that enables individuals to realise their full potential participate fully in our economy.

"That’s why our manifesto set out plans to build a National Education Service, providing lifelong education and training, free at the point of use, to every single person in this country.

"Our National Education Service will be the key institution of fairness and prosperity for the 21st Century, just as the NHS transformed people’s prospects in the 20th century.

"We believe that education is a public good; that businesses, large and small, prosper when education, skills and training are given serious attention by a serious government. And that so do individuals for whom education brings opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have.

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On the challenges and opportunities of rapid technological change, Jeremy Corbyn will say:

Technological change, from automation to decarbonisation, means that many jobs and industries will disappear or shrink in the coming years and decades. But I am not one of the doom-mongers, who believe that will inevitably herald an era of mass unemployment.

"At every stage of economic and industrial history, jobs, industries and skills have been lost, replaced and transformed.

"But whether that happens at huge social cost, as it did, for example, in the early days of the industrial revolution and the Luddites, or is embraced and benefits everybody, depends on managing and planning for technological change. We can’t simply leave it to the market.

"We need public institutions, public investment and public enterprise to work with business to manage the social and economic effects of rapid technological change so that it benefits the many not the few.

"We need to ensure that everyone – workers, government and businesses –  share in the benefits that new technology brings.

"As in every other technological revolution, disappearing jobs will be replaced by new, as yet unforeseen, forms of work. But there will be churn, as these new forms of work will often require a different set of skills to those they replace.

"That means we will need to invest in a step change in skills and training to upgrade the skills of the existing workforce and make sure everyone is able to retrain at any point in life to meet the changing needs of the economy.

"That’s why Labour has made a flagship commitment to make all further education courses free at the point of use for everyone at any stage of their lives.

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