From education to employment

Young Londoners must be equipped for the jobs of today and tomorrow if the capital is to remain the best place in the world to do business

Muniya Barua

In this article, Muniya Barua explains that for everyone, “what to do after leaving education is one of the most exciting and daunting decisions we ever make.”

Figuring out what to do after leaving education is one of the most exciting and daunting decisions we ever make. 

Watching my oldest daughter weigh up the plethora of options available when she leaves university this year evokes a mix of excitement and trepidation. The opportunities that lie ahead are endless, but she will be entering a tough jobs market at a time when the economy is stalling. Like many of her peers she’s not 100% sure about what she wants to do, but she is clear that it should have purpose and make a difference to society. 

Today, around 20,000 young people from different communities and backgrounds across the capital, will head to ExCeL London for Skills London, the UK’s biggest jobs and careers fair, organised for over a decade by BusinessLDN and supported by the Mayor of London. It is our biggest direct intervention in the labour market, bringing young Londoners, teachers, parents and carers together with leading employers, universities and colleges.

It will be an opportunity for businesses to get directly in front of our capital’s diverse talent pool and provide them with the knowledge they need to kick-start their careers. There will be 35,000 jobs, training opportunities and apprenticeships on offer from around 100 business exhibitors – inspiring the next generation of Londoners to choose the career path that is right for them.

The capital’s flagship jobs and careers event is particularly timely following the publication of the London Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) earlier this year. Led by BusinessLDN, with our partners, Federation of Small Businesses London (FSB London), London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), and CBI London, it was the biggest ever data-deep dive on London’s labour market and set out an ambitious blueprint to tackle skills shortages, address inequality and get more Londoners into better, higher-paying jobs by ensuring training provision matches employer demand.

Among the key findings were that the attributes most in demand by employers for the jobs of today and tomorrow are digital skills, green skills, and transferable skills such as complex problem-solving, communication, resilience, and leadership.  Recommendations include businesses and educational providers working together to co-create courses, especially in areas with fast-changing technology such as artificial intelligence, creating a London Recruitment and Skills Support Hub to help smaller firms navigate the skills system and a new one-stop-shop to support jobseekers find their next role.

In the meantime, events like Skills London that bring businesses together with the capital’s diverse talent have a key role to play in showcasing the world of work and further education to young Londoners to help them find their future.

Never has that been truer for a generation which faced unprecedented challenges with the pandemic heavily disrupting their educational experience. And now they face a jobs market that is rapidly evolving in the face of new technology and innovation from artificial intelligence to net zero. It’s clear that many of the jobs of tomorrow will be very different to those today.

While London’s workforce has the highest levels of qualifications in the country, employers are still facing significant skills gaps despite the slowdown in the labour market, and struggling to upskill staff to meet the requirements they need. The capital’s unemployment is around 0.5% higher than the national average, and 1 in 5 Londoners are out of work and not seeking a job. This is even more acute for the capital’s Black, minority ethnic and disabled populations. The unemployment rate for black men in London is alarmingly twice that of white men. And across the UK, only around half (53.7%) of disabled people are in work.

London is a unique city, yet too many young Londoners are missing out on the opportunities available. At a time when employers are experiencing skills shortages, the task of creating a more inclusive workforce that makes use of all available talent, is all the more pressing. Young Londoners must be equipped for the jobs of today and tomorrow if the capital is to remain the best place in the world to do business.”

By Muniya Barua, Deputy Chief Executive at BusinessLDN

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