London Councils: Fixing the skills and employment system for young Londoners

London boroughs are united in our determination to give our youngest residents the best start in life. For many borough Leaders, it’s the reason we get up in the morning.

While London is the best-performing region in the country at GCSE level and our disadvantaged youngsters are twice as likely to get into higher education than anywhere else in the country, too many of the capital’s young people do not continue their education or find work. London’s apprenticeship take-up is low. Young people from poorer backgrounds are still facing barriers that prevent them from succeeding, even when they have good qualifications. This is unacceptable.

London local government is leading efforts to identify how to improve London’s skills and employment system for the thousands of young Londoners currently falling through the gaps.

London Councils’ and Impetus’ ground-breaking new report, The Employment Gap in London, delves into data on school performance and the transition into further study or employment for thousands of young Londoners, giving the clearest picture yet of the strengths and weaknesses in the system and the complexity and different outcomes between local areas.

The urgent issues raised in the The Employment Gap in London have prompted London Councils to make five recommendations for improving London’s skills and employment system:

  • Invest in and devolve 16 to 18 provision so that London Government can ensure that there is sufficient provision to meet diverse needs and aspirations of young people across different parts of London.
  • Invest in and devolve careers services, so London Government can transform the currently fragmented system into a comprehensive and locally responsive service.
  • Increase the flexibility of the Apprenticeship Levy to allow some funding to be used for pre-employment training and in the longer term, devolve apprenticeship funding starting with capital’s non-levy allocation so London government can work with businesses to meet local skills needs.
  • Support the alignment of national Jobcentre Plus and local employment services to allow them to co-ordinate local employment support and achieve better outcomes for young Londoners with the most complex needs.
  • Devolve the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF – replacing European Structural and Investment Funds) to deliver specialist programmes for young people facing complex barriers to employment.

To deal with the serious issues London is grappling with, as well as the variation in young people’s achievements in different parts of the capital, London boroughs want more local control and targeted solutions.

The consensus in the capital across the political spectrum on prioritising children and young people is mirrored in the Government’s election manifesto, which means there’s no excuse for inaction.

Armed with the evidence in our report, London boroughs will be arguing for greater devolution to London and increased flexibility to realise the potential of all our young people, no matter what their background or qualification level.

Cllr Peter John OBE is Chair of London Councils and executive member for Public Service Reform and Devolution and Finance and Resources (Lab)

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