Level up London - Fixing the skills and employment system for young Londoners

London’s outcomes for young people are the best in the country at key stage 3, but this is not sustained post-16

  • By SamiraIslam

London Councils commissioned research to try and understand the drop-off in London’s educational performance post-16, and to dig beneath the pan-London statistics.

The research reveals a remarkably complex picture across London, with considerable differences in education and employment outcomes of young people depending on their characteristics and where they studied in London:

  • Almost half of young Londoners are without A-levels or other level-3 qualifications at age 18. These young people will struggle in London’s labour market that is competitive and creating jobs demanding higher level qualifications.
  • London also has the highest NEET rate in the country for young people who had A-levels at age 18. Even with mid and high-level qualifications, young people in London are finding it difficult to secure jobs and other positive outcomes.
  • Although London has the lowest employment gap among the English regions (that is, the smallest difference between the NEET rates for disadvantaged young people eligible for Free School Meals and their better off peers) young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to be NEET than their better off peers, even when controlling for qualification level.

London needs investment in skills provision and a local, holistic approach

The data shows that too many young people are falling through the gaps in London’s post-16 provision:

  • A lack of skills provision matched to young people’s diverse needs, strengths, aspirations and learning styles has left almost half of young Londoners without a level-3 qualification at age 18.
  • Too many young people are not getting the right careers information, advice and guidance, which is vital in helping them navigate options for learning and work.
  • Apprenticeships are a great way to earn and learn. However, the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy has significantly reduced the number of entry-level opportunities into work, with a 45 per cent decrease in intermediate apprenticeship starts nationally between 2016/17 and 2018/19.
  • 17 per cent of London’s NEET population are “doubly disadvantaged” being from disadvantaged backgrounds and with low qualification levels. This group of young people have multiple barriers to getting a job and need targeted wrap-around support services to progress.

The UK’s overly centralised system is not nuanced or effective enough to address these high levels of inequality and the diverse needs of young Londoners. London needs power and resources at a local level to effectively support the young people who are currently falling through gaps in provision.

Boroughs are uniquely placed to develop a gateway to a full range of local careers, employment and skills provision that is more responsive to the diverse needs of local communities and businesses.

To achieve a step change in the outcomes for young Londoners, London Councils calls on the Government to:

  1. Invest in and devolve 16 to 18 provision so that London Government can ensure that there is sufficient provision to meet diverse needs and aspirations of young people across different parts of London.
  2. Invest in and devolve careers services, so London Government can transform the currently fragmented system into a comprehensive and locally responsive service.
  3. Increase the flexibility of the Apprenticeship Levy to allow some funding to be used for pre-employment training and in the longer term, devolve apprenticeship funding starting with capital’s non-levy allocation so London government can work with businesses to meet local skills needs.
  4. Support the alignment of national Jobcentre Plus and local employment services to allow them to co-ordinate local employment support and achieve better outcomes for young Londoners with the most complex needs.
  5. Devolve the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF – replacing European Structural and Investment Funds) to deliver specialist programmes for young people facing complex barriers to employment.

The full London Councils report can be read here

Read the Impetus: Employment in London Report