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.
* 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.