The Liberal Democrats have unveiled plans to give every adult in the UK up to £10,000 to invest in education and training.
Under the proposals to create a “Skills Wallet” for every adult, people would be given £4,000 by the government at the age of 25, £3,000 at 40 and a further £3,000 at 55.
Individuals would be encouraged to top up their “wallets” with their own money, and employers would also be able to contribute.
The money would be available for spending on a range of educational courses, training and apprenticeships offered by government-regulated providers.
The policy would be funded by reversing the 2016 cut to corporation tax from 20 per cent to 17 per cent.
The Liberal Democrats said it would guarantee “a new era of learning throughout life”, although the policy would not be introduced until 2021-22, to allow for a full consultation on it would work.
Announcing the policy during a visit to an apprenticeship provider in central London, Sam Gyimah, the Liberal Democrats’ business, energy and industrial strategy spokesperson, said: “Working hard should mean secure work and a decent income, but for too many people that’s not the case. In an ever changing workplace people often need to develop new skills, but the cost of courses and qualifications shuts too many people out.”
“Neither the Conservatives and Labour have the answers to these challenges. They are stuck pursuing 20th Century policies that simply won’t work in our 21st Century economy. They would take our country backwards.
He added: “By stopping Brexit and investing in our Skills Wallets, Liberal Democrats will empower people to develop new skills so that they can thrive in the technologies and industries that are key to the UK’s economic future and prosperity.”
Mr Gyimah, a former Tory universities minister who joined the Liberal Democrats earlier this year, ruled out his new party promising to abolish tuition fees when its manifesto is released later this month.
He said: “The idea that you can have zero tuition fees is a fantasy. In every system in which university tuition is free, it means that places are rationed and when the places are rationed, it is the disadvantaged that suffer the most.”
He pointed to the example of Scotland, where there are no tuition fees, claiming that “you are more likely to get into a Scottish university if you are an international student than if you are a poor Scottish student”.