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Skills and training system needs an overhaul if capital to thrive say councils and businesses

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Significant changes need to be made to skills and training provision in London if the capital is to continue to thrive, a leading b claimed today.

A new report by London Chamber of Commerce and Industry and London Councils: London’s Local Business Survey: Assessing the capital’s skills challenge, also claims that a radical overhaul of the apprenticeship levy is needed.

During the compilation of the report, more than 1000 business were surveyed by ComRes, on behalf of London Councils and LCCI.

The survey asked London business leaders about the skills and recruitment challenges their

companies faced and their views on training and apprenticeships.

It found:

  • Skilled manual/technical roles were most likely to be identified as roles where businesses faced skills challenges (by 42% of respondents), followed by professional and managerial roles (30%) and unskilled/semi-skilled roles (at 22%).
  • 31 per cent of companies who have tried to recruit during the last 12 months said job candidates lacked technical or job specific skills. A lack of literacy and written communication skills and commercial awareness were also prevalent.
  • Three in five (61%) business respondents identified skills shortages among their current workforce, with technical or job-specific skills most commonly identified (20% of respondents), followed by advanced or specialist IT skills (13%).
  • Three in five (59%)companies who have tried to recruit have encountered difficulties recruiting new staff over the past 12 months.
  • If apprenticeship candidates were better prepared for the world of work, half (48%) of London businesses say it would make them more likely to employ more apprentices.

Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry Colin Stanbridge said:

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“Most fundamentally, the survey indicates that the skills system is not providing what London businesses need.

“Skills challenges remain across a wide range of areas, including technical and digital capabilities, while the capital’s firms continue to be concerned about the employability of new applicants – including for apprenticeships.

“More broadly, we believe that the working of the apprenticeship levy in the capital must be reviewed, to make it far more effective for employers and in terms of labour market outcomes.”

Cllr Clare Coghill, Executive Member for Business, Europe and Good Growth, London Councils said: “The survey helps London boroughs understand the main issues for businesses in the capital, so that we can create the right environment for them to prosper. This is particularly important as London boroughs and the Mayor undertake a business rates retention pilot this year.

“If local government’s future income is to be linked to business growth, we need to fully understand its drivers and barriers and do all we can to support business and good growth.

“The focus this year on skills, apprenticeships, recruitment and retention highlights an area where

giving London government more powers and levers could really help business to prosper.

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