The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and London Councils have called on Government to devolve more powers and funding for skills and employment to City Hall and London boroughs, as Sadiq announced a new £6.4m fund to help Londoners access learning.
As Brexit approaches and technology continues to advance, London needs to be able to respond to changing skills requirements and possible additional controls on immigration, particularly in sectors including construction and health and social care which are already facing skills shortages.
In a document sent by the Mayor and London Councils to Ministers and endorsed by business leaders across the capital and the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Sadiq and Cllr Georgia Gould, Deputy Chair of London Councils and executive member for Skills and Employment, outline that by taking charge of more elements of the skills and education system, City Hall and London boroughs could deliver programmes in a more streamlined, impactful way.
He has announced a new £6.4m Skills for Londoners Innovation Fund, helping Londoners gain skills in areas such as English, maths and digital, and enabling more disabled Londoners and those who are vulnerable to serious youth violence to access learning.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London is a global leader in education and skills, and as we approach Brexit, we will need to work with the further education sector to respond quickly to changing skills needs.
“As we take over London’s share of the Adult Education Budget I’m putting even more money back into the capital and investing in new projects to make sure all Londoners have access to the training and education they need.
“But more needs to be done, which is why I’m calling on the Government for a new funding and devolution deal to make sure we’ve got the powers and resources we need in the face of these challenges.”
Cllr Georgia Gould, Deputy Chair of London Councils and executive member for Skills and Employment said: “London is a city built on the boundless creativity, talent, and ambition of the people who live, work, and study here. But all too often, Londoners are being held back from unlocking the opportunities generated on their doorsteps by a lack of skills and available training. It’s a problem which impacts every area of people’s lives, undermining their wellbeing, trapping them in low pay, and stifling career progression. We need to change the way that we approach this challenge by focusing on individuals and creating localised, people-centred systems of support.
“London boroughs are uniquely placed to lead this task, harnessing their role as convenors of place to knit together provision and bring together partners, businesses and communities in support of shared goals. Our experience serves to show that bespoke support is best provided by those who know the people who use it. We are calling on the Government to acknowledge this reality by agreeing a significant devolution package for the capital that will enable us to work with the Mayor, employers and training providers to deliver the world-class skills and employment architecture that our city expects and deserves.”
Sadiq’s call builds on the changes he has already made after successfully lobbying Ministers for control of London’s share of the Adult Education Budget. These include helping to tackle in-work poverty and exclusion by funding courses for adults earning below the London Living Wage, and funding deaf Londoners to study for a first qualification in British Sign Language.
Under arrangements inherited from the Government, around £14 million a year is being granted to skills providers based more than 30 miles from central London, with around £3 million spent in management fees sub-contracting back to providers in the capital. Sadiq announced today he is taking action to bring that money back into London, and from 2021 will only allocate grants to providers in the capital or within reasonable travel distances for learners.
The Mayor also announced additional new funding across his skills work:
• An additional £1.6 m funding for the Mayor’s Construction Academy, launched last year to address skills shortages in the housebuilding sector.
• £3.75m for a new round of his Small Projects and Equipment Fund, supporting small projects that deliver inspiring learning environments, from community kitchens to virtual learning spaces.
Jasmine Whitbread, Chief Executive, London First, said: “With three quarters of the capital’s employers struggling to recruit, London needs a skills system that is fighting fit.
“Greater devolution would give London government the accountability and control to deliver a comprehensive employment and skills strategy, including more and better careers advice, apprenticeships and training to deliver the jobs our capital needs.”