London comes last in apprenticeship race, report reveals

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Written by Seun Robert-Edomi on 15 October 2014 in News
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The Mayor set an apprenticeship target of 250,000 by 2016, but looks unlikely to achieve this. He would need a 19 per cent year-on-year increase in new apprenticeships to reach the target

London is lagging behind other regions in England when it comes to the number of apprenticeships, despite having a major problem with youth unemployment, according to a survey out today.

Trained in London, a new report by the London Assembly Economy Committee, highlights the challenges London faces and calls on the Mayor to use his power and influence to do much more.

The Mayor set an apprenticeship target of 250,000 by 2016, but looks unlikely to achieve this. He would need a 19 per cent year-on-year increase in new apprenticeships to reach the target.

The Economy Committee welcomes the Mayor’s renewed efforts to increase the number of apprenticeships, especially amongst Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). However, they say more specific interventions are needed in order to improve apprenticeships in London. Notably, sectors such as construction, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and leisure, travel and tourism, where London has particular strengths, are among the worst performing sectors in terms of the proportion of apprenticeships created.

Stephen Knight AM, member of the Economy Committee, said, “London has one of the highest rates of youth unemployment in the country, yet astonishingly London is falling behind the rest of the country when it comes to apprenticeships.

“The Mayor must use his power and influence to make sure London is not left behind in terms of skills and employment opportunities for young people. London should be investing in its future, if we are to remain the engine of the UK’s economy.”

The number of funded apprenticeships in 2012/13 stood at 77,110, the lowest regional total, bar that for the North East. As a proportion of total employment, London’s figure of two per cent was also the lowest in England. Yet in 2012 25 per cent of economically active young adults in London were unemployed, compared with 20 per cent in the rest of England.

The report makes a number of recommendations, which include:

  1. The Mayor should launch an Apprenticeship Action Plan with a clear and cohesive strategy that brings together all mayoral initiatives to deliver his target of 250,000 apprenticeships.
  2. Firms and sectors that create the most jobs in London should be targeted in boosting their numbers. Measures including procurement could be used to incentivise firms to take on apprentices.
  3. The Mayor should support a pan-London careers advice service to highlight apprenticeships to young people.

Victor Farlie, executive chairman of the London Work Based Learning Alliance, said, “The report is timely and gets to the heart of the issue - we don’t have enough apprentices in London. It offers the Mayor and London a clear way forward and we are keen to ensure we play our part in helping to support more businesses recruit and train apprentices."

The above figures were, however, refuted by the Mayor of London. Speaking to TJ, the Deputy Mayor of London for business and enterprise, Kit Malthouse​, said the percentage increase in apprentice starts in London over the whole of the survey period covered in the Assembly’s report is higher than in any other region​. 

“It is claptrap to claim that London is lagging behind other regions. Apprenticeship starts have increased at a faster rate in the capital than in any other UK region and more than 40,000 people now start an apprenticeship every year in London, which is more than double the number starting four years ago. We will continue to coordinate a massive amount of work and investment alongside the National Apprenticeships Service and employers, with the goal of delivering thousands more apprenticeships for young Londoners," he said. 

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