Local Skills Improvement Plan

Meeting Central London’s Skills Needs – The Local Skills Improvement Plan

Central London has a unique and dynamic economy. The area covered by the 12 local authorities that make up Central London Forward (CLF) hosts 2.3 million jobs – representing one in every 9 jobs across the UK. The concentration of world leading businesses and institutions makes central London a magnet for global talent and an engine of growth for the UK.

However, despite these strengths, central London’s economy faces significant challenges. Unemployment in the capital is higher than the national average, and many employers face skills gaps. A recent survey of businesses in central London found four in five employers (79%) had vacancies, with two in three (66%) struggling to fill these vacancies.

Figure 1: Recruitment challenges in central London

Source: Survation survey, February 2023

Part of the explanation for this is that our skills system is not working as effectively as it could be.

Over the past 9 months, Central London Forward has been working with BusinessLDN to develop London’s Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP), which aims to ensure the post-16 technical skills system better meets employer skills needs.

As part of the London-wide LSIP, Central London Forward has worked with dozens of businesses, providers and other stakeholders to develop a roadmap for the skills system in central London. Our report articulates the skills needs of employers in central London, it identifies challenges with the current system, and it sets out a blueprint for a better skills system. We hope that the actions set out in the plan would ensure the skills system better meets employer needs, thereby tackling skills gaps, and supporting residents into good quality jobs and fulfilling careers.

Our report focuses on five sectors that are crucial for central London’s economy;

  • financial and professional services;
  • digital;
  • health and social care;
  • hospitality and retail;
  • arts, entertainment and recreation.

These sectors account for nearly seven in ten jobs in central London, and they face significant skills and labour shortages.

In addition to exploring the needs of these priority sectors, the report also explores two vital cross-cutting themes. We examine how we can tackle the stark inequalities that scar London’s economy, limiting the opportunities of many central London residents. And we focus on the transition to net zero, looking at how we can develop the green skills our economy will need in the future.

The report identifies growing skills gaps in a number of areas. These include:

    • Digital skills, both at basic level, and at more advanced level including coding, data analytics, cyber-security and AI.
    • Green skills including insulation technicians, heat pump installation, and electric vehicle charge point installation. 
    • Basic maths and English language skills.

The report sets out nine key recommendations, including:

    • Employer engagement – ensuring providers work closely with businesses to help them understand training options and funding, and to co-design provision so that it meets needs.
    • Industry Expertise – having provision delivered by ‘dual professionals’ with both relevant industry expertise, and teaching skills. 
    • Embedding digital skills – ensuring all provision helps strengthen digital skills. 
    • Improving pay and job quality – ensuring employers commit to paying the London Living Wage and improve job quality to attract and retain the workers they need.  

In the coming months, we will continue to work with colleges and other skills providers, with employers and BusinessLDN, to drive forward the recommendations set out in our report, and in the London-wide Local Skills Improvement Plan. Through doing so, we hope to tackle the skills gaps that hold back our economy, and help more residents to access high quality work.

The full report and our findings can be found here. If you are interested in finding out more, please get in touch with Aleyna Prokudina.

Aleyna Prokudina is a Policy Officer at Central London Forward – 14.08.2023