Despite being the capital, London still has one of the highest rates of youth unemployment in the country. YMCA works with many of these young people – often some of the most disadvantaged in society – who have few qualifications and lack the necessary experience to make the transition into employment. For these young people looking to gain employment, even reaching the interview stage is a difficulty and, as such, YMCA supports them to build relevant CV and workplace skills that employers desire.
Although the overall rate of youth unemployment for London is 19%, across the capital the levels of youth unemployment are vastly different depending on the borough in which a young person resides. The focus of the Major and the GLA should be ensuring that the increasing inequality between young people growing up in Richmond and Southwark is stopped. To make this a reality, all initiatives and programmes that are designed to support young people’s educational or employment pathways should be focussed towards those hardest to reach and most disadvantaged.
In recent years, there has been a drive from national government to promote apprenticeships as an alternative option for young people. However, in reality, this has been less successful in providing opportunities to young people with the largest age group starting apprenticeships being those aged 25-years-old and above.
One of the key roles for the Mayor and the GLA is driving business investment into the capital. Building on the London Apprenticeships Campaign, there should be further encouragement and incentives provided for businesses to invest in young Londoners by taking on apprentices. This drive to ensure more young Londoners can access these opportunities could be taken further by ensuring that any external contract granted by the GLA will include a requirement to provide apprenticeship places for young people.
In order to close the inequality gap among young Londoners, apprenticeship opportunities must be available for those with lower attainment levels or who need additional support. When planning the next stage of the Employer-Led Apprenticeship Creation Programme (ELACP), support and funding for applicants who are further away from the labour market must be provided by the GLA.
Alongside this, young people in the capital are still the poorest paid workers and this divide between young workers and old will continue when the National Living Wage is introduced in April 2016. Through the GLA’s procurement services, the Mayor and GLA should ensure that not only the National Living Wage but the London living wage is applied to all those aged under 25-years-old who work within their services and on publicly-funded contracts.
Despite the travel subsidies put in place by Transport for London, for some the cost of transport is still a barrier to employment. Currently those over 18-years-old on an apprenticeship are eligible for reduced transport fares, however, the cost of a day travel pass can still be as expensive as the first few hours of work. In order to support apprentices and young people retraining after 18, free travel should be extended for those on apprenticeship or an educational course up to the age of 21-years-old.
YMCA’s impact on the education of Londoners goes beyond supporting those with the most needs with work-based skills, financial budgeting courses and apprenticeship opportunities. Our work also focuses on lifelong learning and through YMCA George Williams College; Londoners have access to the only specialist youth work Further and Higher Education College in the UK, providing bachelor’s and master’s degree level qualifications.
- Addressing the inequality of opportunity across London should be at the heart of the Mayor and the GLA’s strategies when supporting young people’s aspirations.
- As well as encouraging all organisations to take on apprentices, the Mayor and GLA should continue the business-to-business and small and medium-sized enterprises awareness campaigns directed at increasing apprentice take-up across London.
- Any GLA contract worth in excess of £500,000 should be required to provide apprenticeship places for young people.
- Funding for pre-apprenticeships and support for those furthest away from the labour market should be prioritised in apprenticeship budgets.
- London Living Wage should be applied to all young people aged under 25-years-old who work within GLA services or on GLA funded contracts.
- Free travel should be provided to those studying an apprenticeship when travelling to and from