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Education and training and the election

Skills for Life Network

A round up of the education and training policies proposed by the major political parties, and an overview of manifestos from other education players.


  • The Conservatives in government have begun to test plans for a National Retraining Scheme, supported by £100m announced in last year’s Budget. This is intended to help people train for changing jobs and alternative careers if their jobs are threatened by automation, and is scheduled to be rolled out more widely in 2020. 
  • Have highlighted their plans for the new T Level vocational qualifications.
  • Say they will ‘boost English language teaching to empower existing migrants and help promote integration into society’.
  • Will invest circa £2 billion to upgrade the further education college estate.
  • “We will invest in local adult education”. 


  • Have promised a £3bn plan to offer adults in England free access to retraining to help their job chances and to tackle skills shortages. Every adult would be entitled to six years of free study.
  • Any adult without A-level or equivalent qualifications would be able to study for them for free at college, with maintenance grants available for those on low incomes. 
  • The six-year free entitlement would also cover undergraduate degrees, higher national certificates, foundation degrees and diplomas of higher education in areas including engineering technicians, nursing associates and professional accounting technicians. 
  • Workers would also be given the right to paid time off for education and training.
  • Would scrap the £9,250 tuition fees, create a National Education Service based on the NHS, abolish Ofsted and reintroduce a new generation of Sure Start centres. 

Lib Dems

  • Give every adult a Skills Wallet worth £10,000 over their lives to spend on education and training of their choice. At the age of 25, there would be £4,000 put into the skills wallet, then £3,000 at the age of 40 and £3,000 at the age of 55. The Lib Dems say the policy will cost £1.6bn per year by 2024-25. 
  • Invest an extra £1 billion in Further Education funding, including by refunding colleges for the VAT they pay. 
  • Help children from poorer families to remain in education and training beyond the age of 16 by introducing a ‘Young People’s Premium’. This would be based on the same eligibility criteria as the Pupil Premium, but a portion of it would be paid directly to the young person aged 16-18.
  • Reverse cuts to school funding.
  • Triple the funding for early years pupil premium for children from disadvantaged backgrounds to £1,000.
  • Give teachers a pay rise at least in line with inflation.
  • Spend more money on teachers’ professional development.


  • Extend early years education so academic learning will not start until the age of 6.
  • Abolish SATs and Ofsted and introduce practical and skills training at 14.
  • Raise the funding rate for 16–17-year-olds, followed by an annual rise in line with inflation, at the same time as introducing a capital expansion fund for sixth form providers.
  • Fully fund every higher education student and scrap undergraduate tuition fees. University will be fully accessible, with courses being offered as learning experiences, not as pre-work training. Education will be for education’s sake.
  • Write off existing debt for former students who studied under the £9k tuition fee regime.
  • Increase funding for adult education across England and Wales, creating a range of new adult education programmes for learners to access. These programmes will be integrated with Green New Deal training projects.


  • Increase Welsh language education from nursery through to adult learning.
  • Increase college lecturer pay in Wales to ensure parity with schoolteachers in terms of base hourly pay.
  • Make making public transport free for all FE/6th form students and apprentices in Wales below age 21 in full time education or training.
  • All apprentices under the age of 21 should be partnered with a Further Education college to ensure appropriate support, including access to college days or off-site training/education for key skills or other appropriate education choices.
  • Higher Education should be free for all, and ‘will continue to work towards this aim.’
  • Wiill provide a subsidy to students resident in Wales who wish to study in Wales. Target groups and those studying subjects vital to the Welsh economy and public goals will pay no tuition fees in Wales, including those taking up key healthcare posts, studying science, engineering and technology subjects and students from particularly challenging backgrounds.

Brexit Party

  • Expected to champion the return of grammar schools.
  • Would scrap all interest paid on student tuition fees. 
  • Abolish the target for 50% of young people to go into Higher Education. 
  • Scrap the Apprentice Levy, and improve tax incentives for employers to take on apprentices.

The Association of Colleges (AoC) published its manifesto proposals for the upcoming general election listing five proposals, including: being at the heart of a new regulatory regime with increased investment for staff, students and college estates; and reinvigorated lifelong learning.  

The Sixth Form Colleges Association published its manifesto for the general election listing four proposals: raising the per student funding rate: creating a dedicated capital fund; establishing a more coherent process for new sixth form provision; and protecting applied qualifications like BTECs.


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