London comes last in apprenticeship race

A new report by the London Assembly Economy Committee, ‘Trained in London’, has revealed that London is lagging behind other regions in England when it comes to the number of apprenticeships, despite having a major problem with youth unemployment.

London Mayor Boris Johnson set an apprenticeship target of 250,000 by 2016. The Economy Committee welcomes these renewed efforts to increase the number of apprenticeships, especially among SMEs, but says that more specific interventions are needed in order to improve apprenticeships in London.

The report recommends that:

  • 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.

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.”

Ben Rowland, Co-Founder of Arch, which specialises in IT and Digital Marketing apprenticeships, said: “Too few London employers know that there are apprenticeships in those professions where London’s economy is most strong and needs new skills: IT, Digital Marketing and Media, Finance and Law.  At the same time, London’s teachers, with a few noble exceptions, retain the ‘university is best’ blinkers.  However, firms like Google, Facebook and The Guardian are leading the way in showing the rest of London’s employers what apprentices can achieve.”