With inflation rising, energy bills skyrocketing, national insurance contributions set to rise from April and the government’s misguided changes to universal credit, Londoners are facing an unprecedented cut in their budgets.
As Mayor of London, I want to help those fighting against the rising cost of living. There is a woeful lack of devolution of powers and funding to mayors across the country, but one area where the city council has real power to make a difference is through the delivery of adult skills and training programs.
Helping Londoners gain the skills that will enable them to earn more in their current roles or secure better paying jobs will be key to alleviating the financial pressures felt by many in our city. That’s why today I’m launching a new Skills Roadmap for London, offering free training to any Londoner aged 19 and over who is unemployed, low-income or has limited formal education.
This is one of my signature policies for my second term as mayor. It’s an area I’m passionate about because I know the transformative impact that skills training can have on a person’s life opportunities and prospects. One of my brothers, for example, benefited greatly from high-quality training that enabled him to become a motor mechanic. He hasn’t looked back since. Gaining new skills, retraining, or learning a new trade not only improves your employability, but can also provide a huge boost to your confidence and sense of self-esteem.
Equipping Londoners with the skills they need to advance and pursue new careers is also crucial to London’s economic recovery from this pandemic. Our capital city has been hit much harder than others by Covid-19, with our unemployment rate still higher than before the crisis, and currently the highest of any UK region. However, the good news is that our city’s economy is showing signs of recovery and there are many jobs available for potential applicants. It’s just about making sure Londoners have the skills and qualifications they need to get their foot in the door and take advantage of these opportunities.
To do this, the City Council has been working hand-in-hand with employers and skills providers to ensure that our adult education programs meet the standards and needs of our businesses. We are determined to support Londoners in getting a good and secure job in sectors that are currently facing staff shortages and that are key to London’s long-term recovery and prosperity. These include growing areas of our economy, such as our green, digital, creative and film industries, as well as our healthcare and hospitality sectors.
We’re also launching a major new campaign today to raise awareness of our free adult training offering and make sure it reaches those who need it most. Over the past two years, this pandemic has exposed, exacerbated and entrenched deep inequalities in our capital city, which is why we are committed to helping Londoners who have been denied equal access to vital skills and job opportunities for far too long.
This new offer will build on our strong track record of providing skills training in London. Since 2019, when we first took responsibility for adult education, we have supported more than 400,000 Londoners to develop their skills and access good work, including many Londoners from minority communities, those in low-paid jobs and deaf Londoners. who have been able to train for free to qualify in British Sign Language for the first time.
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The publication of our London Skills Roadmap is an important next step that will allow us to scale up our plans and be even more ambitious in our approach to tackling inequality, supporting our economy and creating a fairer, greener and more prosperous city. . I want to ensure that many more Londoners can turn their passion into a career and gain the skills they need to progress in both life and work.
This issue of skills and education goes to the heart of what I want my mayor to be. I ran for mayor because I wanted to help Londoners get the opportunities, and the helping hand, they need to reach their potential. Our city already has one of the most innovative and dynamic economies in the world. But if we want to scale even greater heights, we must ensure that new ladders of opportunity are extended so that all Londoners can climb.
So as we emerge from this pandemic, I am committed to continuing this important work for Londoners, doing the right thing for our businesses and getting our city back on its feet and prospering once again.
Sadiq Khan is the Mayor of London. If you’re 19 or older and unemployed or in a low-paying job, or know someone who is, check out the free training programs we could provide for you