Luisa Porritt: Apprenticeship hub could help ‘lost generation’

Mayoral candidate Luisa Porritt has outlined plans to introduce an apprenticeships hub in London to avoid a “lost generation” of young people.

Speaking to business leaders at a meeting of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Liberal Democrat candidate put forward her plans for how she intends to be a “pro-business mayor” and lead London’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Revealing that only eight per cent of London businesses currently employ an apprentice, Ms Porritt said creating more apprenticeships in the capital is “so important for our recovery”.

She said: “Jobs are a big worry for Londoners at the moment, but especially for young people. The unemployment rate is rising fastest among those aged 16 to 24. If we don’t act now, we risk a lost generation.

“So, it is sad that apprenticeships are declining in the capital. Just eight per cent of London’s businesses employ an apprentice. And no wonder when you hear about all the confusion and mess that surrounds the Government schemes, from the apprenticeship levy to Kickstart.”

Though she called for “more devolved responsibility” for apprenticeships in London, Ms Porritt said, “there is more we can do with the Mayor’s new powers over adult education”.

“I want to launch a London apprenticeships hub, a centre for knowledge about apprenticeships in the capital so that young people can find opportunities easily, and a program to help businesses maximise take-up of the apprenticeship levy and lead the creation of new, skills-relevant courses in sectors like hospitality.”

But the former MEP stressed that “there is no strong recovery” for London without tackling the “fundamental issue” of the housing crisis, outlining her plans to put “homes in the heart of the city” by converting disused office space into “quality, affordable, zero-carbon homes”.

The plan is based on a similar scheme in the Dutch city of Rotterdam that saw hundreds of offices converted into affordable homes.

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