top of page

What does the Conservative manifesto mean for lifelong learning in the UK?

The Conservatives launched their 2024 election manifesto yesterday stating that education is, “the closest thing we have to a silver bullet”. We have highlighted some key proposals which are in line with the LEI’s Manifesto for Skills.


💡 People ✨ 


The Conservatives will deliver the Lifelong Learning Entitlement which will allow adults to train, retrain, and upskill flexibly. From 2025, adults will be able to apply for loans to cover new qualifications. The LEI supports the introduction of the LLE. However, we have urged for this to include much smaller units of learning than is currently planned and to consider a funding mechanism that would allow employer, employee and state to contribute to a lifelong education fund.


Additionally, the Manifesto outlines a plan to expand adult skills programmes, such as Skills Bootcamps, to meet skills shortages. Thought should be given to extending eligibility for 16–18-year-olds who are in need of sector-specific employability skills that bootcamps offer. We call for the introduction of sectoral/subject-specific Lifelong Learning Pathways (LLPs), initially for all post-16 learning at levels 1–8.


💡 Productivity ✨ 

There are plans to add 100,000 apprenticeships in England yearly by the end of the next Parliament. The extra investment will rise to an additional £886m per annum by 2029/30, but it remains unclear how much of the money raised by the Apprenticeship Levy will be retained by Treasury rather than allocated to the Apprenticeship Budget. Narrowing this gap must be a priority for adequately supporting the skills and apprenticeships sector. A further essential step is the urgent need to adjust apprenticeship funding bands that haven't increased since before the period of high inflation. If individual apprenticeship standards can't be delivered economically by providers, then increasing the total apprenticeship budget will make little difference.


The rural economy, contributing over £250 billion, would receive support for jobs, growth, and education. They are likewise proposing a flexible service for apprenticeships in creative industries, enabling secure training opportunities in film, TV, gaming, and music sectors. In Scotland, the focus is on transitioning to new industries like carbon capture, offshore wind, hydrogen, and tidal energy, with a £15 million fund for skills programmes and preparations for nuclear projects. We call for the creation of regional Skills Observatories to identify skills gaps and skills matching opportunities within designated Regional Skills Improvement Plans (RSIP) areas. 


💡 Place ✨


The Conservatives aim to attract more talented teachers by offering bonuses of up to £30,000 tax-free over five years for new teachers in priority areas. This should be extended to both colleges and independent training providers. They also intend to close university courses with poor outcomes, arguing that this would be for better value for students and taxpayers. The LEI calls for the creation of Regional Skills Improvement Plans (RSIPs) to be overseen by Regional Skills Councils (RSCs) and the publication of a revised UK industrial strategy that prioritises regional comparative advantage, strategic/legacy, and future growth sectors.


bottom of page