The Conservatives have today urged Alistair Darling to adopt a £600m package to provide more science and training courses for what otherwise could be a lost generation of scientists and engineers.  The package which, the Tories say, will be financed by spending restraint in 2009/10* communicates (1) a concern for potentially unemployed young graduates and (2) also the party's belief that Britain's economic future depends upon much more investment in tech-based industries.

The £600m should be spent in three ways according to the plan's joint authors, David Willetts and George Osborne:

  • £350 million to provide funding for 25,000 new Masters Degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)
  • £100 million to fund an extra 50,000 learners aged over 25 in STEM and other subjects
  • £150 million to support the thousands of apprentices who risk losing their training place during a recession.

Tim Montgomerie

* The Tories say this scheme is affordable if Labour adopt the Tory plan for reduced growth in spending – a plan that will save approximately £5bn in one year.  The Tories have earmarked the rest of the £5bn for tax incentives to save.

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