Girl apprentice

Equipping Londoners with the skills London's businesses need

10 May 2017

Skills for Londoners is the Mayor’s new scheme to equip Londoners with the skills London’s businesses need. We spoke to Mark Hilton from London First about why this matters to the organisation’s members…

What is London First?

London First is a not for profit, non-political, business-led body, with over 200 members across diverse business sectors as well as universities and colleges. We work with business leaders, local and national government to make London the best city in the world in which to do business.

Our priority is getting our capital Brexit-ready by 2019, for the benefit of the whole country. We’ve launched a skills commission, bringing together the voice and experience of business leaders, to both meet our capital’s skills needs, and get Londoners into work.

What does a good skills system look like to your members?

Businesses want an agile, demand-led skills system. This means skills courses in colleges and from training providers being geared towards what employers are after. And even before that, school students need to be better prepared for the world of work. There is a job for businesses to go in and talk to schools and tell them about the opportunities that exist.

The system must be able to adapt quickly to the skills that employers need. For that, we need a strong dialogue between City Hall, the boroughs, the skills providers and businesses. That’s why the Skills for Londoners taskforce is so important. It’s also vital all young Londoners have access to top quality careers education and skills provision. The annual Skills London event, is one example of how this can work really well, when businesses, education and training providers come together to inspire and empower young people.

What are your members’ main concerns about skills?

The skills issue is our members’ top concern at the moment. They are most worried about access to talent, apprenticeships and training. How can we ensure these match the demands that employers have for their workforce? This is a constant issue for many of our members, for example in construction and hospitality. However, it has recently become more urgent given the potential impact of Brexit.

How will you work with the Mayor and Skills for Londoners so this happens?

We’re working very closely with the Mayor of London to support the development  of the London Skills Strategy. I’m on the Skills for Londoners Stakeholder Advisory Group. I will be sharing information on what businesses believe the skills strategy for London should look like. We’ll then work together to make sure the system works better for London’s economy.