Access to quality primary education, health services and childcare, relative to the scale of a region, city, town, neighbourhood or community is a defining characteristic of attractive, successful and competitive places.
Good public policy choices in education over the past fifty years have allowed us to achieve a position of prosperity in the information age. We are now moving into a different age – an age of widespread automation, robotics and artificial intelligence – when new policy choices will call for new investment priorities.
Knowledge and specialist expertise will continue to be important in the new economy but even more important will be the ability to apply that knowledge and expertise in previously unimagined ways: to be creative and inventive, to solve problems, to work collaboratively and experimentally, to think conceptually and imaginatively.
Immediate actions in education, to respond to a growing population, will include 50 large scale schools projects annually to 2021, increasing the number of permanent school places by an average of 20,000 annually over the medium term, expansion of capacity across the Institutes of Technology, increases in post graduate and post-doctoral provision, and sustained capital investment across the school system responding to curriculum change and technological developments.
A major programme of investment in health infrastructure will be guided by a recognition that that the best health outcomes can be achieved by reorienting our health services towards primary and community care where people’s health needs can for the most part be met locally, with high quality acute and emergency care provided in the appropriate acute hospital settings. This will include completion of national hospital projects already underway, as well as reflecting the outcome of the Health Capacity Review.
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