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Over 200 providers showcase opportunities to young talent

This year’s Skills London, hosted by London First in partnership with Prospects, brought over 30,000 young people and 220 employers and education institutions together in the UK’s largest employability event. Students and school leavers seeking opportunities met providers from a range of sectors to learn about career prospects in a fun and interactive environment.

Jasmine Whitbread, Chief Executive of London First, opened the morning’s panel debate, attended by business leaders and careers experts and chaired by Dr Deirdre Hughes, Principal Research Fellow at the Institute for Employment Research. Panellists made up of employers, apprentices, students and teachers debated ‘how apprenticeships can meet London’s Skills challenges post-Brexit’.

Jasmine spoke of the unique but challenging landscape of present day London: “a city of extremes – high productivity and highly skilled experience at one end, which of course should be nurtured and encouraged. But, at the other end, high levels of unemployment which must be tackled.”

Young people demonstrated a real appetite for workplace learning. Apprentices from Barclays and CBRE spoke highly of their experiences, valuing the clear progression pathway and qualifications their apprenticeships have made available to them.

Similarly, employers Whitbread and Barclays were both positive about the future following the government’s apprenticeship levy. Mike Thompson, Director of Apprenticeships at Barclays said:

“Apprenticeships have historically been associated with jobs rather than careers. We’ve been working to change that for some time now, by offering pathways and great qualifications at the end of it- many of which are degree level. Sadly there are too few apprenticeships offering these kinds of qualifications, but the government’s new levy could encourage more employers to expand this offer, something that’s much needed.”

Deputy Mayor Jules Pipe gave a closing speech that confirmed City Hall’s commitment to developing local talent through a range of initiatives including; the Skills for Londoners taskforce, Construction Academy and Digital Talent Programme.

He stated: “For London’s wider economy to continue to succeed we need access to the very best global talent. But, just as importantly we have to develop more home-grown talent than ever before. To give Londoners access to these jobs and opportunities we will work with businesses to understand their changing needs and to ensure that skills provision responds quickly to those needs.”

The Deputy Mayor and London First’s Chief Executive toured the exhibitor space, meeting apprentices and trainers from Barclays, Premier Inn, Lambeth College and Tideway.

London First also surveyed over 1,100 young Londoners to find out how they felt Brexit would impact their job prospects.

Mark Hilton, Director of Education and Employment Policy at London First concluded: “There’s clearly a great deal of uncertainty around Brexit and it’s critical London has access to a strong mix of talent and skills. Businesses are investing in apprenticeships and working with schools, colleges and universities to open up career opportunities. So it’s hugely encouraging that young people are responding by planning the qualifications and skills they’ll need for the future.”

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