Training for Young People

MQT on 2009-06-17
Session date: 
June 17, 2009
Question By: 
Joanne McCartney
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


What new training opportunities are you planning for young people in London?


Answer for Training for Young People

Answer for Training for Young People

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Joanne, this is an important question relating to what we are doing to try to help young people. As everybody realises we are coming up to the summer months when large numbers of young people will come on to the job market. We are expecting about 100,000. We must help them in any possible way that we can.

You may remember that in April we invested £23 million in various schemes around London; brokerage schemes that were helping to bring together mentors and unemployed people, particularly young unemployed people, to help them to get the confidence they need to write a CV to get the work that they might otherwise not get and, of course, I think that it is vital that we encourage apprenticeships, not just in this body, not just in Whitehall, but throughout business in London.

Joanne McCartney (AM): On this same topic, you have talked in the past about your academy programme to improve training for young people. Is that still on track?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): One of the academies that will be going -- I do not want to sort of equivocate on the term here but, strictly speaking, there will be one academy next year, a tunnelling academy, which will help to train young Londoners in Newham, where it will be located, for some of the 14,000 jobs that will be created by Crossrail, so that is certainly on track.

Then, as you know, there are other ideas and other academies that we are trying to bring forward through the London Development Agency.

Joanne McCartney (AM): On that point, can I ask what was the reaction of the LDA Board when it talked about your academy paper on 20 May?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Well I am afraid I was not at the LDA Board on 20 May, but I think there was some interest and controversy and some confusion about exactly what was being proposed. I think, to the best of my knowledge, that has been allayed and I think that the LDA is now supportive of the idea - as I think it should be.

Joanne McCartney (AM): I understand that the reception was extremely lukewarm with a great deal of criticism --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I do not think you can be extremely lukewarm! I think that is an oxymoron.

Joanne McCartney (AM): I understand that it stated that if you were to proceed with this it would ask you to direct it to do it --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): It is like Jenny [Jones]; everybody just wants lever --

Joanne McCartney (AM): They could think of better ways to spend the money than shiny new buildings and it, I understand, asked officers to go away and ask you to look at alternatives. So could you tell me what alternatives to helping train young people in the way you seek you have looked at and what conclusions you have reached, rather than putting it into building or promoting new academies?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): You are jumbling together two quite separate things.

Joanne McCartney (AM): No. Your LDA Board, your business advisers, asked you to do this. Now, have you done it and, if so, what were your conclusions?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I have certainly given a direction that we should go ahead with the academies project and I think that is the right thing to do.

Additionally, obviously, to get to your point, there is a massive amount of work to be done across London in helping to train young people at a very, very difficult time. If you look at the catastrophe that has overwhelmed the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). Look at what has gone on there. We need to seize this in London and we need to get it going. We are spending billions and billions and billions in a completely non-joined up way and it is very, very important we need to organise it and we need to get better results. So that is one of the things that we are doing through the London Skills and Employment Board (LSEB).

Joanne McCartney (AM): The question is are the academies the best way to do it and what alternatives have you looked at? Have you looked at any other alternatives?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I think you are posing a false alternative here.

Joanne McCartney (AM): Is that a no? Have you looked at --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): If you want a no I will give you a no. I am just trying to give you a sensible answer.

Joanne McCartney (AM): Your LDA Board suggested that you could possibly be looking at strengthening leadership in schools, creating positive peer groups and liaising with community and employers because the responsibility for 11 to 18 education quite firmly rests with local authorities.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I see.

Joanne McCartney (AM): So can I ask your strategic view on this? Are there better ways you could spend the money rather than on new buildings as it were? It seems to me that there could have been other alternatives that you could look at.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I am not going to be deterred from supporting academies just because of the ideological hostility of Labour Members. I think they are a good idea, they were promoted by the Labour Government, I think they could be developed and I think they are a good solution in London. If you are now saying that these are not things that you support then that is an interesting divagation from Labour policy and I did not know that that was your position --

Joanne McCartney (AM): Can I say we support opportunities for young people. We are questioning what alternatives you have looked at - at the best way to do it - and so far you have failed to give me any explanation that you have looked at alternatives and you have come to a rational decision on this. If you can do that we will look at it, but you have not and your own LDA Board is also saying that.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I am sorry. In addition to the academies, as I have said repeatedly now in this conversation - which seems to be needlessly acrimonious since we are both agreed if I take it you actually like academies in spite of what; you are criticising me for supporting a programme that you yourself support.

Joanne McCartney (AM): I am still asking the question what alternatives have you looked at?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): As I say there are plenty of things that we are doing to support training across London, which is what your question was about. Amongst them are, for instance, the promotion of 3,000 apprenticeships in the GLA group, and I would encourage not just other London boroughs but the whole of Whitehall to do this as well - and businesses. I think, if you look at the way of getting people confident about working and a way of actually making sure that they get jobs, is to get them into the place of work. We should be militating as a body for a far wider programme of apprenticeships across London.

Joanne McCartney (AM): Can I just ask one other thing? I understand that when you set up the academies they are going to be managed by a charitable trust. Are you going to ensure that that charitable trust is open to the full scrutiny of this Assembly?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I cannot work out whether you like academies or not. This is a Labour policy - academies - and you seem to be incredibly hostile.

Joanne McCartney (AM): I was asking you to convince me that you have gone through a due process with this and you have not. The management of them, if it is to be by charitable trust, will you ensure that that charitable trust is answerable to this Assembly? Is that a yes?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Well, everything I do is answerable to this Assembly.

Joanne McCartney (AM): That is a yes then? Thank you.