Helping young Londoners into a decent job
London is failing to provide our young people with the experience and skills both they and our businesses need to succeed in the global economy.
Getting a good job isn’t just about skills and qualifications. Knowledge of the industry, contacts and work experience are invaluable too. Young people with professional parents are often plugged into such networks. But many young people in our city don’t have that lucky break. This problem is compounded by the fact that careers advice in many schools is simply not up to the job – often provided by over-worked teachers for whom this isn’t their prime or only responsibility. For young people, first-class careers advice can’t be an optional extra – it has to be an essential part of how schools prepare them for the world of work.
Our city is also falling behind other regions in England in terms of the number of apprenticeships created and started. We have far too few apprentices in the key sectors – like tech, services, tourism and the arts – which drive the London economy. And if we’re going to build many more homes, we need many more young men and women trained in the skills – whether they be builders, roofers, or electricians – to build those homes.
Boris Johnson’s pledge of 250,000 new apprenticeships by next autumn is unlikely to be met – with public money being wasted on subsidies to employers who would have created apprenticeships anyway.
The needs of London’s burgeoning digital sector are particularly critical. More than 250,000 people are employed in the digital sector in inner London. It is responsible for the creation of more than 1 in 4 of all new jobs in the capital and is growing faster than many other international digital hubs, such as New York. The number of digital companies in the capital has doubled since 2009.
But this success is at risk: London is facing increased competition from other cities in the UK, like Liverpool, Brighton and Bournemouth. London’s growing digital companies face skills gaps and recruitment problems: 71 per cent of Tech City business leaders say they face skills shortages and estimates suggest 745,000 digital workers will be required by 2017. At the same time, many young people with promise can’t afford the fees charged by ‘digital boot camps’ – the fastest route to employment in the sector.
In place of warm words and unrealised aspirations, I’ll provide the serious skills and jobs strategy London needs.