London is a successful world city. And yet, it faces significant challenges with accessing skills which risk undermining this success.London has more skills shortages than any other UK region and 76% of London’s businesses are already struggling to find candidates with the right skills. Left unchecked, the changing external context of Brexit and job automation could lead to London’s skills challenge becoming even more acute.
Our skills system must be ready to meet these changes to keep our capital, and the whole of the UK competitive. London First members, who employ over 1 million people, have identified this as one of their top priorities. To meet this challenge head on, I chaired our Employment and Skills Commission, working closely with business leaders across London’s key sectors. Our comprehensive action plan for London, launches today.
When government, businesses and education work in partnership, we can give Londoners the skills to get the jobs that businesses need. Our plan outlines key recommendations to:
prepare London for the new labour market — business, education providers and government must work together to give Londoners vital transferable skills, and better access to entry-level jobs and apprenticeships;
fix the apprenticeships system - businesses need a system that supports, rather than hinders their work to create more, high quality apprenticeships; and
give London the tools to deliver — central government needs to devolve more control over skills funding and policy to a London-level business led-decision making model.
London First is committed to playing its role. Our immediate priority is to make the case to government of how the apprentice levy must be reformed. We also plan to grow Skills London – the UK’s largest jobs and skills event – by creating an online platform to help learners and parents better access the entry-level training and job opportunities on offer. And we have a longer-term set of ambitions where, working with London businesses, we can make practical interventions to improve opportunities for Londoners.
Last week, the Mayor launched his Skills for Londoners strategy, developed in tandem with the work of our Commission, and which London First was glad to have contributed to. We both agree that the relationship between business and schools and colleges must be strengthened. As we move to implement our plan, an important part of our role will be to drive business support for the work the Mayor and others are doing on business/education brokerage and outreach, and to help scale up good practice.
We look forward to working with our members and government to implement our action plan over the coming months. If we get this right, and give London the tools to deliver, we’ll keep our economy growing for the benefit of the whole of the UK.