Skills in London

MQT on 2007-05-23
Session date: 
May 23, 2007
Question By: 
Elizabeth Howlett
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Is the London Skills and Employment Board looking at ways of dealing with the dearth of home-grown skilled workers in the construction industry, perhaps through apprenticeships and similar schemes?


Answer for Skills in London

Answer for Skills in London

Answered By: 
The Mayor

It is correct that there are significant issues in the skill levels of the construction workforce in London. Of London's construction workforce, 16% are qualified to NVQ4+, contrasting with the much higher London average of 38%. Contrastingly, 29% of London's construction workers have NVQ1 or no qualifications which is greater than 18 % for the comparable London average. Another significant point is that the construction workforce does not reflect London's population overall (in terms of gender and ethnicity). The construction workforce has few women and a low share of workers from BME groups. In London, only 10% of construction workers are women, the lowest of any sector, showing that women are substantially under-represented. Construction is also relatively unrepresentative for BME groups. In London, 13% of construction workers are from minority ethnic groups compared to 21% of London's workers as a wholeThe Board is currently developing a skills and employment strategy that addresses the needs of the London labour market and improves the ability of Londoners to access that market. Accordingly, that involves looking at the evidence of where employment opportunities are within sectors of the London economy and improving the skills offer to better equip Londoners to make the most of those opportunities.The nature of the construction business in London makes it challenging to address specific skills issues because it is dominated by small operators. It is estimated that there are more than 90,000 construction businesses in London and almost 89% of these are made up of self-employment - a slightly higher share than nationally. 80% of London's construction firms are not registered for VAT, also a higher share than nationally. Small firms in London make up almost 94% of all construction firms, employ 39% of all construction workers and provide 20% of the construction work done. Medium-sized firms make up almost 6% of all construction firms, employ 30% of workers in the construction sector and account for 34% of the work done. Large firms have nearly half a percent of the share of construction firms, employ 31% of workers and carry out 46% of the work done. The other striking feature of London's construction sector is that unlike other parts of the country it has a relatively weak tradition of apprenticeships. As part of developing its Strategy, the Board is looking at ways in which it can encourage employers to train their own staff and provide greater incentives to small business to undertake training.Other relevant initiatives include: - Summit Skills and the Graduate Forum are supporting 200 undergraduates to get more people from ethnic minorities into jobs on Olympic sites. Construction Skills and employers are jointly funding scholarships for female and ethnic minority students to study construction-related degrees (applications are up 50% on last year).- Employer Accord is developing a partnership between London employers (including construction) and welfare-to-work agencies to get more workless Londoners into jobs. This is being targeted at harnessing some of the specific opportunities arising from major construction projects across London.