London comes last in apprenticeship race

15 October 2014

London is lagging behind other regions in England when it comes to the number of apprenticeships, despite having a major problem with youth unemployment. The Mayor set an apprenticeship target of 250,000 by 2016, but looks unlikely to achieve this. He would need a 19% year-on-year increase in new apprenticeships to reach the target.1 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 Economy Committee welcomes the Mayor’s renewed efforts to increase the number of apprenticeships, especially amongst Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). However 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. The number of funded apprenticeships in 2012/13 stood at 77,110, the lowest regional total, bar that for the North East.2 As a proportion of total employment, London’s figure of 2% was also the lowest in England.3 Yet in 2012 25% of economically active young adults in London were unemployed, compared with 20% in the rest of England.4 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.” Victor Farlie, Executive Chair 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 report makes a number of recommendations, which include:

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.

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.

The Mayor should support a pan-London careers advice service to highlight apprenticeships to young people.

Notes for Editors: 1. London Enterprise Panel, Skills and Employment Working Group, Apprenticeships Update, June 2014 2. Apprenticeship participation by region: 2011/12 to 2013/14, Skills Funding Agency and Department for Business, Innovations and Skills, 27 March 2014 3. Skills Funding Agency and ONS Regional Employment Data 4. London’s Poverty Profile 2013, Trust for London and New Policy Institute 5. Stephen Knight AM, Member of the Economy Committee, is available for interview – see contact details below. 6. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor. For media enquiries, please contact Lisa Lam on 020 7983 4067. For out-of-hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officer. Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.