Mayor calls for more powers over skills to protect London's economy

20 October 2016

Sadiq Khan today calls on the government to devolve more powers to London to develop skills among its workforce and to keep the capital globally competitive in the wake of Brexit.

The Mayor of London has stressed to ministers the importance of pressing ahead with a skills devolution deal so City Hall has the tools it needs to ensure the training available in the capital plugs the skills gaps for businesses.

London’s continuing success – underlined by the capital being named the most powerful city in the Global Power City Index this week - relies both on boosting Londoners’ skills and having access to the very best global talent.

Businesses in London employ a large number of workers from the European Union – who contribute a great deal to the vibrancy of the city’s economy.

Following Britain’s decision to leave the EU, the impact on the flow of skilled migrant workers remains unclear.

The number of skills shortage vacancies in London has more than doubled in four years from 14,000 in 2011 to 37,000 in 2015, a figure which could worsen because of the uncertainty of leaving the EU. Currently European workers from the European Economic Area contribute significantly to London’s economy, filling 25 per cent of all construction jobs and 32 per cent of accommodation and food services jobs.

Sadiq Khan has stressed that if the government opts for a so-called ‘hard Brexit’ London does not currently have sufficient powers to train workers in the capital.

He remains committed to maintaining a strong mixed local labour base and skills system to meet the capital’s needs, as well as retaining and attracting the very best talent from around the globe.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London has a strong, dynamic economy that makes a significant contribution to the UK. When London does well, Britain does well and it is therefore crucial we have the skills system to continue to be a globally competitive city that works for all Londoners.

“The uncertainty around Brexit means it is critical we have a strong skills base with a good mix of local and global talent to both retain and attract business.

”I am the Mayor to lead a new skills agenda for London and it’s important we give businesses the confidence that London will continue to deliver for them and we’re doing all we can to build and protect the skills base they need to thrive.”

City Hall has been making the case to the Treasury and Department of Education for the devolution of skills to give the Mayor greater powers to influence the upskilling of workers in the areas needed the most. The Mayor has been clear we need to work closely with businesses to understand their changing needs so we can protect our economy and allow it to continue to grow, as well as competing on a global stage and contributing to the UK as a whole.

The Mayor is calling for:

  • The powers to develop a home-grown talent pipeline equipped with the skills London’s businesses need to ensure they are globally competitive.
  • The powers, funding and responsibility London needs to take a strategic approach to post-16 skills to meet the needs of London’s economy and help reduce youth unemployment. This includes 16-18 skills provision, adult skills and the careers information, advice and guidance needed.
  • Replacement funding for the European Social Fund post-Brexit, which is an important source of investment in skills and employment support in London.
  • The devolution of further education funding for 16-19 year olds and adults to create high-performing colleges to meet the needs of London’s economy and help reduce youth unemployment.

The Mayor is also launching a Skills for Londoners taskforce, which will develop a city-wide, strategic approach to skills, mapping gaps and commissioning provision that meets the needs of London’s economy.

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