By Daniel Hunter
Mayor of London Boris Johnson has today (Monday)kick started National Apprenticeship Week by confirming plans for a £1.8 million scheme that will create over 3,500 new apprenticeships across the capital.
The funding is expected to open up opportunities in thousands of London businesses that may never have taken on an apprentice before.
Specialist recruitment and training providers are being lined up to partner with the Mayor to deliver a programme that will target businesses of every shape, size and specialism. They will be tasked with finding innovative new ways of delivering apprenticeships and helping young Londoners looking for careers ranging from catering and construction to manufacturing and marketing, with all the support they require to obtain apprenticeships within the capital.
Today the Mayor met apprentices working at the New England Seafood factory in Chessington, where he tried his hand at “pin-boning” a salmon.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “We want to extend the fantastic benefits apprenticeships offer to thousands more businesses and young people across the capital and help drive the skills and opportunities Londoners need to excel. Our new programme will reach out to those companies yet to dip their toe into the rich pool of talent contained in our capital, and help maintain London’s position as a world leader for training, development and expertise.”
The new scheme is the latest in the Mayor’s on-going commitment to cultivate apprenticeship opportunities in a growing range of businesses across the city. This year alone he has doubled employer apprenticeship grants to enable more small and medium sized businesses to take on apprentices, and is funding a network of apprentice ambassadors to help promote the opportunities in schools.
Around 190,000 16-24 year-olds have become a London apprentice since 2010. The number of young Londoners not in education, employment or training in London is at its lowest since records began and is the lowest of all English regions, whilst the latest employment rate for 16-24 year olds is the highest since 2007.
London-based New England Seafood has taken on 12 apprentices since 2012, five of whom have gone on to take up full time positions at the company.
Dan Aherne, CEO of New England Seafood said: “The food industry offers an amazing choice of career opportunities for young people, and is often overlooked by school and college advisors. New England Seafood has taken on over 200 people in total in the last 10 years and seen a great number rise through the ranks. Most rewarding has been to see our apprentices and previously unemployed young people join and grow in confidence and take on jobs with real responsibility, so we 100% support the Mayor’s efforts on this excellent scheme.”
Marcus Legg, an Engineering Apprentice at New England Seafood said: “I joined New England in 2012 in the HR team where I completed an Office skills Apprenticeship. Luckily I was also able to do a second apprenticeship, following my dream into Engineering where I am working on a NVQ3 level Engineering Apprenticeship hopefully leading to a full time role as Shift Engineer.”
The Mayor’s new employer-led programme has been devised as a way of tapping into the knowledge, expertise and problem-solving ability of businesses across the private and public sectors in order to deliver more apprenticeships. Rather than specifying exactly how the programme should be delivered, the Mayor’s team have asked employers and training providers to propose innovative new solutions for engaging businesses working within their networks or supply chains with a view to encouraging more firms to recruit apprentices.
It is the first time the Mayor’s team have provided grant funding to organisations to offer a top-to tail apprenticeship and business engagement service in London. They will engage businesses who have not recently taken on apprenticeships and support candidates through the recruitment process.
National Apprenticeship Week runs from 9-15 March 2015. To find out more about the Mayor’s apprenticeship scheme www.london.gov.uk or view the Mayors 2020 vision www.london.gov.uk/mayor-assembly/mayor/vision-2020