Labour will make UK ‘world leader’ in R&D – Starmer

Labour will focus on improving digital skills and increasing investment in research and development

Sir Keir Starmer says Labour would make the UK a “world leader” in research and development if he enters Number 10 as prime minister.

The Labour leader gave his first live conference speech to a packed hall in Brighton on Wednesday 29 September. The 90-minute address made mention of several new policies, including a commitment to research and development.

Labour will set a target to invest a minimum of 3% of GDP, Sir Keir said, as he pledged to make the UK “a world leader in science and research and development”. Sir Keir did not delineate what share should come from public and private funds.

Shadow business secretary Ed Miliband made a specific pledge to invest £3 billion over a decade to fund a “green industrial revolution” in the UK steel industry.

The word ‘skills’ was mentioned eight times by the Labour leader, who pledged to redirect the education sector towards making young people “skilled in life [and] ready for work”.

Forty per cent of young people leave compulsory education without essential qualifications
– Sir Keir Starmer

“Forty per cent of young people leave compulsory education without essential qualifications,” Sir Keir warned – adding later: “That’s why we will focus on practical life skills.” Young people should leave compulsory education able to “communicate and work in a team” and “literate in the technology of the day”. Labour, he said, would focus on ensuring young people complete education “ready for work”.

Schools should give digital skills parity with arithmetic, reading and writing, Sir Keir opined as he pledged Labour would write “a curriculum for tomorrow”. The speech did not mention Labour’s position on the lifelong learning entitlement, the Augar review or the government review of level three qualifications.

Read more: Government opens review into cutting red tape in HE

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