Skills for Londoners

As a child I had a great education in local state schools – with teachers who inspired me. Today’s teachers are among the uncelebrated champions of our communities, but their job is getting tougher and tougher. Meanwhile we have a skills gap which is holding our economy back.

I strongly believe that how we educate and train people – both as youngsters and throughout their lives – has a profound impact not only on their own chances in life but on London’s economy and competitiveness.

But while London is a great place to learn and train, with thousands of fantastic schools and some of the best institutions of higher and further education anywhere in the world, we are still failing to enable all Londoners to live up to their potential. Because of this, we stop businesses from growing, forcing them to look further afield for the skills they need.

It’s a scandal that more than 44,000 children in London are taught in classes of more than 30 – with some taught in classes of more than 40. Analysis by London Councils suggests that the Government’s plans to reform funding could lead to London schools losing up to £260 million if they were in place now, with the harshest cuts falling on the most deprived areas.

I will put up a fight against any such proposals, and demand that the Government rethinks any formula which puts London’s schools at risk. Currently the Mayor has few powers relating to schools. However, Londoners starting a family don’t care about the boundaries between 32 London boroughs - they want to know their child will get a place in a good school near where they live, in a class of 30 or fewer. I’ll play a city-wide strategic leadership role, seeking to make a big dent in the school places crisis.

Meanwhile, I hear from businesses that a lack of the skills they need in the London workforce is a key barrier to growth. For some, such as in the tech sector, the problem is a shortage of young Londoners with advanced technical skills, such as coding, or web design. For others, not least some of our world-leading financial companies, a weakness in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills among London’s workforce makes hiring young people more difficult than it needs to be.

I’ll be a Mayor who leads a new skills agenda for London – Skills for Londoners – making sure businesses and Londoners get the skills they need to succeed.

Training Londoners for London’s success

I will create a new Skills for Londoners taskforce, learning from the Jobs for New Yorkers taskforce established by Bill de Blasio. Working in concert with the London Enterprise Panel, it will consist of business leaders and other employers alongside the Mayor, London councils and representatives of HE, FE and schools to:

  • Develop a city-wide, strategic approach to skills, identifying gaps in provision and ensuring that currently disparate programmes and funding streams, across the public, private and voluntary sectors, work in concert.

  • Map the skills gap, and commission programmes to create a pipeline of skilled London workers to make the most of the opportunities in London’s growth sectors.

  • Work with schools to improve careers advice and to promote opportunities for children to get an early start in career skills such as coding or engineering – and making sure all such advice and programmes are gender blind, creating equal opportunities for boys and girls.

  • Ensure that communities across London have access to training, and that from a young age both girls and boys are encouraged to explore the skills they need to get on in the future economy.

  • Make gender equality a focus, creating targeted opportunities for girls to excel in STEM skills in particular. 

  • Create thousands of new, high-quality apprenticeships by commissioning places using the levy paid by business to government. The levy paid by London’s employers should be ring-fenced to the capital to make sure this benefits young people and businesses in London. 

  • Develop high-quality apprenticeship programmes in partnership with industry.

  • Establish a construction academy scheme, with the housebuilding industry, to close the gap between our ambitious housing targets and the need for more skilled constriction workers in London.

Better schools for London’s children

I’ll take a lead on education, providing the strategic leadership and city-wide planning that London’s schools are lacking. I will:

  • Break down the boundaries between boroughs and co-ordinate school-place planning, working with local authorities to properly prepare for long-term population growth.

  • Develop a city-wide STEM strategy and establish a London STEM Commission to link schools with science jobs and careers.

  • Improve provision of careers advice in schools through the new Skills for Londoners taskforce.

  • Work with councils to challenge coasting or poor-performing schools of all types and support those schools that need it, supporting calls for local democratic scrutiny of all state schools, and ensure that both teachers and school support staff alike are properly recognised, respected and rewarded.

Supporting further education

I will also seek a devolution deal over further education which recognises the strategic importance of a London-wide approach to FE, aligned with the needs of employers and students. I will:

  • Be a champion for London’s neglected FE sector.

  • Use the local area review process to ensure FE provision meets the needs of London’s economy and is of the high quality that Londoners deserve.

  • Call for the devolution of further education funding for 16 – 19 year old and adults to create high-performing colleges that meet the needs of London’s economy and help to reduce youth unemployment.

  • Promote the take-up of Adult Learning loans

  • Oppose the cuts to English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes in London’s colleges, and lobby the Government to restore funding 

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