London is not the first major global city to face problems in its skills system. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach that London can replicate, there are aspects of how different cities, at home and abroad, have approached their own skills challenges that London can seek to learn from in tackling its unique circumstances.
London needs a skills system that is dynamic, resilient, coherent and efficient.
Now the cross-party group of capital MPs is calling for a devolution deal for the capital that will give London government – the Mayor and boroughs – full control over the skills system, saying that simply ‘tinkering around the edges’ will not deliver the scale of change needed.
We argue that it should have three central strategic aims: boosting economic growth and employment; increasing social inclusion and wellbeing; and increasing the efficiencyand effectiveness of investment in education and skills.
The system should also be underpinned by eight key principles. It must:
- Be labour-market led;
- Have strong employer engagement;
- Have strong local accountability;
- Be outcome focused;
- Include stronger incentives;
- Be flexible;
- Include effective and impartial careers information, advice and guidance;
- Take a whole systems approach.
In order to create such a system, we make the following recommendations to government for what a skills devolution deal with the capital should look like:
- Improve data sharing between HMRC, DfE and London government on learners’ job outcomes.
- Devolve all 16-18 provision to London and give the capital greater control over policy and commissioning as part of a whole systems approach that can reflect London’s progression and economic priorities.
- Give London government control over all vocational capital investments, including 14-19 capital provision and Institutes for Technology, alongside existing FE Capital responsibilities.
- Review the Apprenticeship Levy after 12 months to assess how it is operating in London.
- Devolve unspent Apprenticeship Levy funds generated in the capital to London government. This should be the first step towards London government taking full responsibility over apprenticeships policy like the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales.
- Develop an all-age London Careers Service, accessed through a single portal, offering face-to-face guidance, easily accessible outcomes data and an offer of 100 hours experience in the world of work for all Londoners.
- Devolve existing careers funding streams to London to build this single integrated careers service. As a first step, London government should commission Adult Careers IAG contracts in 2017 and have a formal, strategic coordination role with London providers of careers services.
- Ensure London does not lose out in any future skills funding settlement. Any future settlement must take into account London’s unique needs.
- Devolve ESF replacement funding to London government when Britain leaves the EU.