Manifestos round-up: CMI responds to the key management issues of the general election

19 May 2017 -


Theresa May’s decision to call a snap general election surprised many with its timing. Here, CMI looks at the main management issues of the election and responds to the main parties’ manifesto points

Matt Scott

Education and Learning


The Conservative manifesto promises to introduce a “new right to request leave for training for all employees” in order to develop the skills needed to drive the UK economy forward.

The party also acknowledges the benefits of degree apprenticeships, pledging to deliver on its commitment to deliver 3 million new apprentices by 2020 and allow large firms to pass Apprenticeship Levy funds down its supply chain to smaller firms.

CMI director of strategy Petra Wilton said: “The importance of career learning is acknowledged in the Conservative manifesto, and to achieve this we hope that a dedication to upskill existing employees can go a long way to match skills with sector needs. We also hope that a new government will also focus on the value of the new higher-level apprenticeships.

“A major investment in apprenticeships is vital to create a skills-based, internationally competitive economy. We call on all political parties to remain committed to the new breed of employer-designed apprenticeships funded by the Apprenticeship Levy. The next Government needs to back their expansion to all high-quality, accredited learning programmes and improve access to levy funding, particularly for small businesses.”


The Labour manifesto promises to abolish university tuition fees and reintroduce the maintenance grants that were phased out under the Conservatives: “Labour believes education should be free, and we will restore this principle. No one should be put off educating themselves for lack of money or through fear of debt.

“There is a real fear that students are being priced out of university education. Last year saw the steepest fall in university applications for 30 years.”

Wilton said: “The tuition fee debate focuses on one traditional route through education. But it isn’t the only route, and for many it isn’t the most effective route. We urge all parties to think broadly about the options available and do more to champion the new degree apprenticeships.

“These produce business-ready graduates and are paid for through the apprenticeship levy, as opposed to tuition fees. These provide students with a new university career pathway, without saddling young people with debt.”

Liberal Democrats

Wilton encouraged the Liberal Democrats to throw its weight behind higher level apprenticeships and back the Apprenticeship Levy as a way of improving the skills of UK Plc.

“A major investment in apprenticeships is vital to create a skills-based, internationally competitive economy,” she said. “We call on the Lib Dems and other political parties to remain committed the new breed of employer-designed degree apprenticeships funded by the Apprenticeship Levy. These produce business-ready graduates and can go a long way to match skills with sector need.

“Putting relevant skills training into the heart of the education system is important, but won’t be a silver bullet on its own. The government will need to focus on both young people, and upskilling those already in the workforce with hands-on, practical skills that are relevant to the future of the UK economy.”

Executive Pay


The Conservative manifesto has a commitment to require listed companies to publish the ratio of executive pay to broader UK workforce pay and subject executive pay packages to strict annual votes by shareholders.

CMI chief executive Ann Francke said: “It is about time that business around the country embraced the need for transparency, and publishing executive pay ratios are an essential part of that. Building trust is important. Make no mistake about it, trust affects productivity and growth: in rapidly growing organisations, 68% of managers have trust in their leaders. So getting it right brings real rewards.”

Gender Diversity at Work


The Conservative manifesto reiterated the party’s commitment to fighting the gender pay gap, saying it would “require companies with more than 250 employees to publish more data on the pay gap between men and women”. The manifesto also committed to improving flexible working opportunities to improve take-up of shared parental leave and to help those caring for sick or elderly relatives.

Wilton said: “Gender diversity at every level is great for business, so we welcome a political focus on tackling the gender pay gap. The reporting regulations introduced in April shine a spotlight on the gender pay gap, and encourage employers to get more women into higher-paying senior roles. But they are only one part of the solution.

“We need a cultural shift that actively supports changes in how people work. Managers rate flexible working as one of the top five ways to help women progress and to create a diverse, more productive organisation.

“We also need to look at systemic measures that will actively support women returning to work. What’s good for women is good for men too. Extending the period in which men are entitled to paid paternity leave, for instance, will help families share parenting duties.”

Ethnic Diversity at Work


Wilton said: “The evidence is increasingly clear: diversity in the workplace delivers results. After the progress we’ve seen this year in eliminating the gender pay gap, it’s encouraging to see the Conservative manifesto extend the focus to addressing racial inequality in the workplace.

“Research that CMI is undertaking is already showing how the vast majority of businesses lack data about their employees’ ethnicity, and for many it’s a more complex area to navigate than gender equality. The new government will need to support employers in accelerating efforts to increase diversity and inclusivity within their organisations, which will be crucial if we are to close the ethnicity pay gap.”

Next week CMI will be releasing its own election manifesto, highlighting what it thinks are the key management issues facing the UK economy and how the next government needs to address them.

We will also be revealing the results of our snap election survey and how CMI members think the general election is affecting their business. Come back on Monday to find out more…

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