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What’s Onward This Week

One week in, Rishi Sunak’s pitch to the nation has been policy-heavy, packed with popular pledges like national service and more apprenticeships.

But the Conservatives face strong headwinds. Even a year ago, Onward’s Missing Millenials paper found that 62% of 25-40-year-olds thought the party “deserved” to lose the election. 

It might be difficult for a think tank to admit that policy isn’t everything. Whether people are willing to listen is just as important as what you say. Sunak has five more weeks to try and cut through.

✍️ Research

The first policy announcement of the campaign may have been inspired by Onward’s paper, Great British National Service, by François Valentin. Finding today’s youth to be unhappy, unskilled and unmoored, he recommended an opt-out civic scheme for 16-year-olds, inspired by the model introduced in France by Emmanuel Macron.

The Prime Minister also plans to create 100,000 new apprenticeships over the next Parliament if re-elected. In Off Course, Jess Lister, argued that apprenticeships could be best supported by reforming the existing levy, and flagged that further investment would be necessary to boost numbers. In A Question of Degree, Onward also supported the idea of cracking down on low-value courses to release public funds for technical and vocational education.

Allan Nixon and Anastasia Bektimirova ask why the UK still lacks the scientific talent it needs despite record levels of immigration.The answer: reforming the Global Talent Visa, they write for Onward’s Science Superpower Substack.

📰 Media Mentions

Onward’s Great British National Service paper was mentioned in The Times (including a column by Melanie Phillips), Sky News, The Spectator, The Telegraph and Bloomberg.

Onward’s Director, Sebastian Payne, spoke to BBC News, LBC, Times Radio and Channel 4 News about the proposal.

Onward’s Deputy Director, Adam Hawksbee, talked to GB News about apprenticeships.

🌐 Onward Online

Phoebe Arslanagić-Little explained why The Economist was mistaken in its criticism of pro-child policies.

Adam Hawksbee shared some insights on why apprenticeships rather than low-value degrees should get government backing.

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