A people-first manifesto: Unlocking future prosperity

We’re just three weeks into the UK’s election campaign, and political battle lines are being drawn with the major parties releasing their manifestos this week. As the 4 July deadline looms, we’re hearing pacts and promises on everything from training and apprenticeships, to net zero ambitions, to immigration, to workplace regulation.

With the party manifestos being published, we have put together our own set of recommendations and requirements for unlocking the future prosperity of the country…

Putting people first

The time is now to look beyond the pledges and policies.  We should remember that this election is fundamentally about people. People who – based on the latest unemployment figures from the ONS – are increasingly either unable to find, access or participate in work.  And, when we talk to the people who are hiring, 8 out of 10 of them say they can’t find the people with the skills they need. Add long-standing economic stagnation, high living and labour costs, low productivity levels and high national debt into the mix, and we have got a lot to figure out when it comes to our future and how people fit into our success.

We need more than just pledges and policies – we need urgent action. The only way to unlock the future prosperity of our country is to unlock the potential of its people. So, with this people-first approach in mind, we urge whichever party is victorious on 4 July to prioritise the following areas:

Better work, better access

Point #1: Let’s get more people working. We must look beyond headlines to challenge the broad stereotypes, particularly around perceptions of younger or older workers or the reasons why people aren’t working (the so-called ‘sick note’ culture). Innovative approaches are needed to bring more people into the workforce and enhance both the depth and breadth of the domestic labour market. Key areas of focus should include access to work, support for parents and carers, and flexibility around work hours and/or location.

This last point, in particular, is crucial. The UK labour market has been able to ride out the challenges of recent years due to flexibility. Workers want to maintain this autonomy around the way they work, as they prioritise work-life balance and ‘thriving’ rather than just ‘surviving’ at work. Responsible flexibility – that works for both employees and employers – will foster a more inclusive and dynamic labour market.

We also need to recognise the important role that migrant workers can play in helping fill positions where UK employers are reporting pressing immediate skills shortages.  Workers with specialist skills are increasingly mobile and have a choice of countries to potentially call home. We need a visa system that’s responsive to domestic employer needs, one that is streamlined and has the flexibility needed to ensure the UK can be destination-of-choice for key global talent.

Better skills

Point 2: Let’s give people the skills with greater opportunity.  A comprehensive, new-look national skills and training strategy is essential – a strategy that unifies government, education, training, industry, unions and workers. To get more people into work – and subsequently into higher value-creating roles – we need new skills and capabilities. While new technologies like generative AI dominate headlines, human-centric skills such as learnability, empathy, collaboration, adaptability, resilience, and critical-thinking remain absolutely paramount for employers. Aligning the development of both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills will be crucial for the ongoing skills revolution. Flexible use of the apprenticeship levy is one way – e.g. shorter, more focused training to close the competitive gap at pace in traditional sectors such as logistics and IT, and new sectors such as data and green. We need a levy that is more accessible, that works for both employers and employees, and that is fit for a 21st century world.

Better vision, better investments

Point 3: Let’s build our skills for the future. Technology, AI and automation will continue to be wrapped into our lives.  AI is poised to be a net creator of jobs in the long run, but vigilance is needed. Recent research from the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) illustrates a range of scenarios for the impact of automation on jobs in the coming years, with its median scenario estimating that 4.4 million UK jobs could disappear during the second wave of AI deployment, offset by potential economic gains of £144bn per year (6.3% of GDP). This analysis suggests that new technology doesn’t inevitably lead to a ‘jobs apocalypse’ – but government action is essential to ensure that economic gains are widely spread. As AI becomes more prevalent, new approaches to digital literacy spanning education, training and regulation will be required to protect and create jobs across all sectors. Without these measures, millions of employees are at risk of being left behind.

Point 4: Let’s build our skills for a sustainable future. The urgency to be more green – for people, business and the economy – will only grow.  Clean and green technologies are predicted to create up to 30 million new jobs globally by 2030. But this green transition is happening during a time of growing talent scarcity, with a staggering 94% of employers worldwide reporting a lack of skills required to achieve their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals. Recent U-turns and diluting of net zero commitments across the political spectrum threaten to impact the UK’s ability to secure its share of the new jobs that the green transition promises. Government must help employers close the gap by developing the skills workers need for the green jobs of the future.


Unlocking the future prosperity of the country means unlocking the potential of its people. Better skills, leading to better quality jobs that provide earning power, work-life balance, and wellbeing – done in ways that can be equitably accessed and shared by all – are what’s needed to make a transition towards the new-look economy of the future. A pivot towards lifelong learning is crucial to continued growth – and this shift will require a bold and co-ordinated effort between government, businesses, education, and training institutions from 4 July onwards. The clock is ticking, and it is imperative that no one is left behind in this journey towards a more prosperous future.