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A manifesto for higher education, skills and work based learning: through the lens of The Manifesto for WorkPurpose: This paper is prompted by recent professional and political events and specifically the politically oriented ‘Manifesto for Work’ recently published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), to propose a manifesto for the broad professional sphere of higher education, skills and work based learning. Design/methodology/approach: This paper utilises a unique form of political ideology critique, applied to the CIPD’s Manifesto for Work, to propose alternative directions for practice, research and policy. Findings: This paper highlights four key areas which need further research and development in the area of higher education, skills and work based learning. These are discussed in relation to: overhauling corporate governance; inclusive workplaces, flexible working, and disadvantaged groups; investment in skills, lifelong learning, and well-being; and re-balancing working practices and rights. Research limitations/implications: This paper highlights areas for further research in the broad professional area of higher education, skills and work based learning. Originality/value: This paper is a unique, time-bound political response to the current political landscape, and is the first to propose a manifesto for the professional sphere of higher education, skills and work based learning.