Since 2009-10, London boroughs have created nearly 7,000 apprenticeships in a diverse range of fields from civil engineering to project management.
In 2014-15, 1,513 apprentices were recruited by London boroughs, their contractors or local government-funded training agencies.
Boroughs are now reaching more young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) than ever before. Of the 1,273 apprentices recruited by London boroughs and their supply chain in 2014-15 (not including those in borough-funding agencies) 540 were previously NEET – equivalent to 42%.
By the same measure, in 2010-11, 886 were recruited by boroughs and their contractors, of which 173 were previously NEET, or just 20%.
Apprenticeships are now a well-regarded route into work and a career. Young people increasingly see the value in the skills and experience they can gain, while employers recognise the contribution apprentices can make.
London Councils runs the London Boroughs Apprenticeship awards, which demonstrate how apprentices excel in their roles and can have a positive impact on the councils in which they work.
Southwark is committed to creating 2,000 apprenticeships by 2018. In 2014-15 the council created 228 apprenticeships internally, through its supply chain, partners and contractors, and in local businesses which the council has supported.
The council offers extensive support to smaller businesses and a contribution of up to 75% of a young person’s London living wage for 12 months – with businesses paying the remainder – to help create apprenticeships and jobs for those finding it hard to get work.
All businesses entering into council contracts worth over £1m are required to offer apprenticeships and this year Southwark adopted a planning policy requiring one new apprenticeship per 2,000m2 of development.
In March 2015 the council set a new benchmark with the launch of the Southwark Apprenticeship Standard, which is endorsed by the Living Wage Foundation. It defined the London living wage, secure employment, quality training and mentoring as key components of a successful apprenticeship.
The standard is built on more than ten years of experience delivering a high-performing internal scheme. In that time Southwark has offered 364 apprenticeships, of which 84 were delivered by 24 contractors, with three more joining this year. The standard is supported by local businesses like PwC and business improvements districts.
The latest success in apprenticeship creation across London demonstrates how boroughs are working in ever-more innovative ways with a range of local partners. The hard work of boroughs using their resources effectively means they can help young people who were previously furthest from the workplace.
Peter John (Lab), leader of Southwark LBC and London Councils’ executive member for children, skills and employment