Today sees the launch of Skills for Londoners: A Skills and Adult Education Strategy for London by mayor Sadiq Khan.
The strategy document says that the mayor “aspires to create a single, integrated skills and adult education offer for London to deliver a more strategic, whole-system approach to post-16 skills”.
The devolution of the adult education budget in 2019 is described as “an important and welcome first step”, but the strategy report also calls for the devolution of: “16-18 technical provision, careers services, apprenticeship levy funds and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund – the domestic successor to European Structural and Investment Funds – to London”.
The report states: “National control of the skills system, combined with funding reductions by successive governments, has created a skills system that is under-funded, under-utilised, fragmented and too heavily focused on delivery of qualifications, rather than quality and outcomes. The Skills for Londoners strategy will go some way to creating a more dynamic, responsive system for the capital. But there are long-term structural issues that directly affect London and other city-regions that need radical overhaul. We cannot make this transformative change alone. It will require greater commitment from government to relinquish its powers to enable local control to direct provision to better meet need.”
What the strategy says
1. Develop an all-age careers information, advice and guidance offer for London.
2. Continue to lobby government to ensure that London gets a fair funding settlement in the UK Shared Prosperity Fund – fully devolved to London.
3. Expand the range of programmes on offer that target the most disadvantaged groups.
4. Undertake a strategic, pan-London review of post-16 SEND education provision.
5. Support the Work and Health Programme ensuring better integration with skills provision in London, call on government to make better use of Flexible Support Funds, and support London Councils’ calls for a "local first" approach.
6. Ensure that the devolved adult education budget (AEB) prioritises support to meet need, with flexible, inclusive and integrated skills and training provision that prioritises improving progression outcomes, employability and enterprise skills.
7. Drive up participation and progression outcomes in the provision of English and maths, identify new and more diverse sources of investment and innovative approaches in Esol, work towards providing a digital skills entitlement for Londoners, and seek to make adult learning provision more accessible and flexible, through the devolved AEB.
8. Continue to fund early years hubs to bring childcare settings together in London to improve the access, affordability and quality of early years provision for the most disadvantaged families.
9. Ensure that the devolved AEB continues to be made available to those Londoners that need it most.
10. Publish new research that analyses the pathways young people from different backgrounds in London pursue post-16, which will inform a holistic and strategic approach to skills in London.
11. Commission further research to better understand the higher drop-out rates from universities in London.
Mark Dawe, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, said: "AELP and AELP London are greatly encouraged by the consultative approach that the mayor and his team have taken in drawing this new strategy together and the strong analysis of the capital’s skills needs reflects this. Boosting digital skills is one priority where providers are ready to play a full part.
"The Mayor’s view that a more strategic approach to commissioning the adult skills budget is required and making it more outcome based will generate better results for London’s economy and communities. As we have said to others, AELP believes that it’s far too soon to start using the apprenticeship levy for wider skills training provision but our members in London are ready to work with the GLA to make sure every penny of it is spent either with levy payers or with the thousands of SMEs spread across the boroughs."