2017 Election: Manifesto proposals on skills, education and training

Creative Skillset, the industry skills body for the screen-based creative industries, has been reviewing the skills-related commitments in the political parties’ General Election manifestos.


We’ve looked at how the parties have addressed the skills and learning issues prioritised recently by Creative Skillset’s industry partners.  Topics relevant to our sectors include:

  • Skills investment targeted at industry-identified skills gaps
  • High-quality careers advice and guidance
  • Diverse new entrants with relevant basic skills and knowledge
  • Lifelong learning opportunities – upskilling and reskilling – including support for workforce returners
  • Relevant qualifications – technical, vocational and academic
  • Digital skills – along with science, technical, creative and arts skills

Here’s a summary of the parties’ proposals on skills, learning and the creative industries:

The Conservatives have

  • Acknowledged the creative industries as a world-beating industry sector and proposed building on the tax credit scheme.
  • Committed to the previously announced T-Levels, proposing to increase the number of teaching hours by an average of 50% and invest in FE colleges’ facilities and equipment.
  • Re-affirmed their commitment to create three million apprenticeships by 2020 and involve larger firms in sponsoring apprentices.
  • Proposed a new right for all employees to request leave for training.
  • Pledged to establish new technical institutes.
  • Proposed doubling the annual Immigration Skills Charge, with revenues to be invested in additional skills training.
  • Committed to investing £250 million in skills by 2020, as part of a new National Productivity Investment Fund.
  • Committed to relocating Channel 4 out of London.

The Labour Party has


  • Pledged to build on Britain’s status as a world leader in culture and the creative industries, putting the creative sector at the heart of industrial strategy.
  • Work with business, trade unions, devolved government and others to identify specific labour and skill shortages.
  • Create a £1 billion Cultural Capital Fund to invest in cultural infrastructure and creative clusters.
  • Firm up apprenticeship targets, including doubling NVQ Level 3 completions and increasing apprenticeships for people with disabilities, carers, veterans, women, and BAME and LGBT groups.  
  • Support lifelong learning opportunities through a National Education Service and a commission to integrate further and higher education.
  • Provide additional childcare support to support returners.
  • Increase FE teacher recruitment and provide extra funding for T-levels.
  • Strengthen the focus on creative skills and careers through a primary schools arts ‘pupil premium’, a review of the EBacc and a creative industries schools campaign.
  • End university tuition fees.
  • Work with the film industry and broadcasters to improve diversity on and off screen.

The Liberal Democrats have

  • Committed to supporting the UK’s creative industries.
  • Doubling the number of businesses which hire apprentices – extending apprenticeships into the creative and digital industries, increasing apprentices’ diversity, investing the Apprenticeship Levy in a wider range of training and developing national colleges as centres of expertise.
  • Strengthening workforce diversity by, for example, funding extra childcare and back-to-work support.
  • Promoting lifelong learning by reversing all cuts to school and college budgets and providing further funding for mature adult and part-time training
  • Protecting arts and creative subjects in the curriculum.
  • Reinstating student maintenance grants for the poorest.
  • Retaining public ownership of Channel 4.

The Scottish National Party has

  • Proposed to establish an enterprise agency for the South of Scotland to address skills needs.
  • Oppose the Skills Immigration Charge and any similar charge for EU workers post-Brexit.
  • Increase free childcare provision to 30 hours by 2021.
  • Invest in and reform school education with a new National Improvement Framework, the Scottish Attainment Challenge and a £120m Pupil Equity Fund.
  • Retain an expanded Education Maintenance Allowance.
  • Increase the number of Modern Apprenticeships to 30,000 new starts.
  • Guarantee the continuation of free university education.
  • Push for greater authority and funding for BBC Scotland and support the relocation of Channel 4 operations to Scotland.

The Green party has

  • Proposed scrapping university tuition fees, funding full student grants and increasing public investment in further and higher education.
  • Restoring the Education Maintenance Allowance.
  • Making apprenticeships available to all qualified young people aged 16 to 25.
  • Protecting the BBC and tightening media ownership rules so that no individual or company can own more than 20% of a media market.

The UK Independence Party has

  • Pledged to abolish tuition fees for degree-level STEM subjects.
  • Introduce ‘employability’ lessons and entrepreneurship information into the careers syllabus.
  • Phase out the TV licence, moving the BBC to a subscription and/or advertising-funded model.
  • Place a five year moratorium on unskilled and low-skilled immigration.

Plaid Cymru has

  • Committed to a guarantee of employment, education or training for any person under 25 looking for work.
  • A new network of specialist National Colleges of Vocational Education, for 14+ and post-compulsory education.

Other parties

Sinn Féin focuses on Brexit impacts, including prioritising special EU status for Northern Ireland to safeguard schools, universities and the education system. The Social Democratic & Labour Party manifesto includes a proposal to increase free childcare to 30 hours per week. The Ulster Unionist Party promise to invest in skills. The Democratic Unionist Party supports further investment in Assured Skills and Future Skills schemes, increased involvement of industry in shaping the skills agenda and better alignment of third level courses with strong and emerging sectors. They also propose to reform the BBC structure, services and funding to ultimately reduce or abolish the licence fee and to refocus the Ulster-Scots Broadcast Fund.

For more information about Creative Skillset’s support for skills development click here.

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