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£44m Mayor’s Academies Programme will support Londoners into good jobs and help address growing skills shortages

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The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today (31 Jan) launched a major new skills programme, which will offer free training courses to support Londoners into good jobs and help address the growing skills shortage in the capital.    

  • Latest figures show London’s economy is starting to show signs of recovery, but growing number of businesses struggling to fill skilled posts
  • New campaign launched to show Londoners how they can access training and gain qualifications for free 

London’s economy is starting to show signs of recovery.

The latest labour market statistics reveal that the unemployment rate in London continues to fall from the pandemic peak and is down 1.7 per cent compared to the same period the previous year. Online postings for jobs in London are also back to pre-pandemic levels, however a growing number of businesses are currently unable to find people with the skills they need.

The £44m Mayor’s Academies Programme will coordinate and improve the quality of training in the capital, enabling anyone who is 19 and over and unemployed or in low-income work to access training courses for free at local colleges and adult education providers. This will mean that Londoners can retrain, learn or upskill and seize the new opportunities available on London’s growing job market. 

The programme will target priority industries, including green, digital, hospitality, health, social care and the creative and cultural sectors, to help ensure London emerges strongly from the pandemic. It will also work directly with employers in these sectors to build greater workforce diversity, ensuring groups that are underrepresented in London’s labour market are able to access high quality work.  

The Mayor has today published his Skills Roadmap for London which outlines his vision for adult learning during this mayoral term to ensure it can better serve Londoners wanting to learn, upskill or change jobs. 

Londoners with lower level qualifications have been at greater risk of job losses during the pandemic, and research shows that gaining qualifications makes it more likely to return to or enter employment. Helping Londoners acquire the skills that either allow them to earn more in their current roles, or secure better-paid jobs, is also going to be key to easing the financial pressures felt by many as the cost of living increases. 

A major new campaign will launch today across the Transport for London network to raise awareness of the thousands of free adult learning opportunities available in a range of sectors, including the creative, health and social care, green, digital and hospitality industries. Featuring real life stories from Londoners who have benefitted from adult learning, the poster campaign will encourage more Londoners to take advantage of the wide range of training courses now offered by local providers to help them get a new job. The long-term campaign will also expand to target social media content with education providers encouraged to get involved in promoting the campaign on their own channels. 

Today the Mayor visited Nexus Studios, an independent production and animation studio in Shoreditch, which supports and champions Londoners who are under-represented in the creative industries to get jobs. 

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said:  

Many Londoners are facing an unprecedented squeeze on their budgets due to an increase in inflation, energy bills and National Insurance contributions, which are set to go up from April. As Mayor, I won’t sit by while people in our city struggle with the soaring cost of living. That’s why I’m taking action now to help Londoners acquire the skills that either allow them to earn more in their current roles or secure better-paying jobs.

“My new flagship skills programme will offer any Londoner who is 19 or over – and who is unemployed or in a low paid job – the chance to access training for free. 

“London’s economy is starting to show signs of recovery, but many businesses are crying out for people with the right skills. This new programme will not only ensure Londoners can gain the skills they need to succeed, but support London’s businesses and our economic recovery.”   

Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries said:

“It was a pleasure to meet so many talented people working in our creative, digital and hospitality industries at Nexus today. These state-of-the art studios produce award winning content all year round. But following the pandemic the creative industries are crying out for more talented people. These new Academies are a great solution – and will help more Londoners develop the skills needed for jobs in the creative industries, which are crucial to London’s recovery.”

Adrian Wootton OBE, Chief Executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, said:

“Today’s announcement by the Mayor couldn’t have come at a better time. Global demand for screen content is at an all-time high, creating opportunities at every level, from camera operator to caterer to costume designer to coder. So it’s vital that we continue to develop our talented, diverse workforce here in London, to capitalise on the demand and fill thousands of new jobs being created. Film London is delighted to partner on the new Skills Academy with Capital City College Group, supported by Middlesex University and London Higher. An unique consortium of the screen industry, learning providers and government, the new Creative Sector Screen Skills Academy will help Londoners acquire new skills, retrain and progress into good jobs within the sector.”  

Gary Hunter, Deputy Executive Principal of Capital City Colleges Group, said: 

“We are very proud to be part of the Mayor’s Academies Programme to provide Londoners with the core skills that employers need to get the capital back on its feet after the pandemic. 

“Our four hubs – Creative, Digital, Green and Hospitality – will provide practical work-based training designed and delivered with our industry partners that will fit around people’s lifestyles, with a particular focus on those who have been hit hardest by COVID, instilling them with workplace confidence and the skills to move into exciting new careers.” 

Andrew Ridley, Regional Director for the NHS in London said:

“The Mayor’s Academies Programme is a great way to encourage and empower people from a wide range of communities, with differing levels of work experience, to start or progress their journey in a rewarding career in the capital. The NHS health academies provide a fantastic opportunity for people to find a role that fits their skills, ambitions and interests, and support the NHS’s growing workforce. This programme opens the door for Londoners to gain experience, grow and develop higher level skills in health and social care, and for the existing workforce to access high-quality training opportunities”.

The Mayor met Jacy Garland and Andrico Zacharia who have both completed training recently. To support her return to work after becoming a parent, Jacy studied Level 3 Media Make-Up & Hairdressing at Westminster Adult Education Service and is currently working as a freelancer. Andrico studied BTEC Level 3 in Computing along with GCSE English and maths and is now working as a Digital Engineering Apprentice at Goldman Sachs.  

Jacy Garland, who studied at Westminster Adult Education Service said:   

“I studied Media, Film & Theatrical Hair & Makeup. I chose this course to regain confidence within the Hairdressing industry whilst gaining new skills in both Hair & Make-up. Becoming a parent is the best thing that ever happened to me but professionally I had lost the confidence on the shop floor and felt out of touch with the working world.  

“Finding this course really helped me to get back on track and regain the confidence I needed to feel competent with all areas of my job and more. It was like therapy to refine my old skills whilst learning lots of new ones too. 

“I think education is for every age – you can never stop learning”.  

The Mayor’s Academies Programme will support Londoners hardest hit by the pandemic into good work in sectors key to London’s recovery and long-term economic growth, as part of the London Recovery Programme. This includes the green, digital, hospitality, health, social care and the creative and cultural sectors.

The Skills Roadmap for London will steer adult education across this mayoral term, ensuring this is even more responsive to the needs of London’s communities and businesses and accessible to Londoners. 

The Jobs and Skills Campaign launches on Monday 31 January: Londoners will see posters across the TfL network which showcase stories of people training for jobs in priority sectors that are key to London’s recovery, including creative, health, green and hospitality. These posters are inspired by real-life case studies to show authentic, relatable stories which highlight the benefits of adult learning. The campaign will later expand into video-on-demand and social media. 

Latest ONS figures show that unemployment rate continued to fall from its pandemic peak but was still higher than the UK average. London’s unemployment rate was estimated at 5.4% for the three months ending November 2021, down 1.7 percentage points (pp) on the same period in the previous year. The UK average was 4.1%. 

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