Tackling the UK skills shortage and productivity problem is key to unlocking economic growth. Universities and colleges play a central role in delivering high level skills essential for upskilling and reskilling the workforce for the future, but the system needs change.

Government policies – including apprenticeships, LifeLong Learning Entitlement and reforming technical education – have rightly given increased focus to the importance of skills, but this has often created unnecessary burden and bureaucracy which is stifling innovation. In this manifesto we outline a number of suggestions to the next government which will help universities and colleges across tertiary education to unlock the potential of the workforce and drive forward economic growth.

GuildHE is today launching a Skills Policy Manifesto with a series of 5 recommendations to the next government:

  1. Reduce regulatory overlap and bureaucracy in Level 4+ qualifications
  2. Finalise the Lifelong Learning Entitlement policy to ensure a range of qualification options are available
  3. Ensure that the Apprenticeship Levy is fit for purpose and encourages greater employer support for learners, plus additional financial investment in training
  4. Support the full diversity of higher education providers to develop new educational pathways
  5. Recognise the successful work universities are already delivering in their professional and technical qualifications offers

Anthony McClaran, GuildHE Chair, and Vice-Chancellor of St Mary’s University Twickenham said: 

“Tackling the UK skills shortage and productivity problem is key to unlocking economic growth and universities and colleges play a central role, but the system needs change if the shared objectives are to be met. The policy focus on skills by the current government is very welcome, however unnecessary burden and bureaucracy is stifling innovation and the policies could embody more fully the central role of higher education institutions. The current funding mechanisms are unnecessarily complicated and do not reflect delivery costs, and nor does the Apprenticeship Levy meet the needs of all industries. We await vital decisions by government about the implementation of the new Lifelong Learning Entitlement which will affect provider readiness and there is a real danger that the intended transformation of choice, flexibility and support for post-18 students might not be realised in practice. The GuildHE Skills Manifesto makes positive recommendations to address these challenges.

GuildHE member institutions teach and train over 150,000 students in the UK each year and deliver innovative, technical, and industry-leading teaching and learning experiences that service the needs of many sectors including teaching, healthcare, agriculture, business, law, theology and the creative industries. Universities and colleges work closely with industry to develop a wide range of qualification types across tertiary education with a variety of opportunities for training and industry engagement embedded into the curriculum.

Download the GuildHE 
Skills Policy Manifesto