London’s young people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic in terms of employment; ONS statistics show that 80% of those who left the payroll were under 35 years old with the under 25s the most affected. What are your specific plans to support London’s young people into employment?
The jobs and skills challenge facing all Londoners is alarming in scale, and these Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures confirm the impact on younger Londoners. I welcome much of the Government’s action to protect jobs and create new ones, but it is also clear that we need tailored local responses to support our young people. I have introduced new flexibilities to the AEB to provide more job-focused training for Londoners most affected by the pandemic, which enabled 21,560 young Londoners aged between 19 and 23 to receive fully funded training.
The £32 million Good Work Fund will provide skills and employment support for Londoners aged 19 and above. I will soon be investing more funds to establish an academies programme to support Londoners most affected by the pandemic as well as delivering a new careers hub, a co-investment between the GLA, European Social Fund (ESF) and the Careers and Enterprise Company. But there is more to be done. The London Recovery Board’s new deal for young people mission aims to ensure that by 2024, all young people in need have access to a personal mentor and access to local youth activities. London’s Anchor Institutions, through their new charter, are playing a key advocacy role for good jobs and fair pay to help London’s employers build back better and to address structural inequalities in the labour market, benefiting young people looking for good work.
Thank you for that, Mr Mayor. London is a young city; nearly a third of its citizens are under 25. Yet they are the most at risk of unemployment. The number of under-25s in employment is currently at the lowest on record. That is particularly true in disadvantaged communities such as mine in Edmonton and Tottenham where the employment that is available is often insecure in nature. I would like to know what specific targeting you will be doing to those areas where those young people most at risk are based.
This is a really important issue. You and I both lived through the 1980s when you had generations written off because of the mass unemployment. In fact, one of the concerns that I have is what you have highlighted, it is in the most deprived communities where there is the largest number of people furloughed or having lost their jobs. More than 300,000 have lost their jobs over the course of the 18 months in London and more than a million people currently are furloughed.
We are microtargeting in assistance to those boroughs that need the most support. That includes how we are microtargeting the AEB, but also where the skills academies will be doing work. You have seen the progress of the construction academy. We are going to see the green, digital, creative, and health and social care academies, particularly focusing in those parts of London where you have young Londoners not in employment, education or training (NEET), who need that helping hand to fulfil their potential.
Thank you. That is good to know. This is a real opportunity to try to level up some of that inequality in our city. You have introduced the Good Work Standard, but obviously you have many links with employers. Will you do your best to make sure that they target their job and training opportunities to the geographical areas that have high numbers of young people?
One of the things we are trying to do is to persuade the Government that, if levelling up is going to be meaningful, it has to include levelling up intra-region. You will be aware some of the poorest boroughs and wards in the country are in London and that is what your question alludes to. The good news is we are working really well with, not just the private sector, but also what we call the Anchor Institutions, the NHS, universities, TfL, the MPS, etc, to make sure they also are helping us ensure that it is the Londoners in the poorest part of our city - who normally do not get the opportunities, what I call underserved communities - who get the assistance to get the skills for the jobs of tomorrow. It is really important we do not leave them behind.
Thank you. I will - and I am sure all Assembly Members will - be advertising those opportunities to our young people.
Assembly Member Duvall has already asked you about the Kickstart scheme, which has been a little slow in getting started. But can I ask what other long-term assistance the Government needs to provide to support our young people and what other schemes could be devolved to the GLA? Being closer to our local communities, we can often do things better.
Hopefully, Londoners have started to see the difference that us being in charge of adult education is starting to make. Look at how quick we were to move towards giving free training for those on the minimum wage to get a living wage. Look at our speed in relation to making sure Londoners, for whom English is not their first language, were given assistance. Look at the speed at which we announced the new academies, green, digital, creative, health and social care, as well as construction. If the Government were to devolve 16 to 19 to us, that would be a real game-changer because if we can get these Londoners early we can utilise them.