London mayor accused of “utterly failing” youngsters

Protesters outside as their apprenticeship scheme has been axed.

Protesters outside as their apprenticeship scheme has been axed. - Credit: Archant

London mayor Boris Johnson has been accused of “utterly failing young people” by the London Assembly member for the borough, in light of plummeting apprenticeship numbers in the area.

Jennette Arnold, London Assembly member for Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest, made the statement after it was revealed more than half of apprenticeships created have gone to those over the age of 25.

Ms Arnold said: “Boris Johnson has a vast mountain to climb if he is going to come anywhere near delivering the quarter of a million apprenticeships he promised Londoners by 2016, particularly as in some boroughs, like Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest, apprenticeship numbers are actually falling.”

Government figures show between 2011 and 2012 there were 3,990 apprentices starting work, falling to 3,550 between 2013 and 2014 in the boroughs.

The Mayor has stated that between April 2012 and June 2014, 96,500 apprentice starts have been reported in London.

Government changes have meant that some forms of in-work training have been reclassified as apprenticeships.

Under the new system, the majority of people over 25 in apprenticeships already worked for their employer before starting an ‘apprenticeship’.

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Ms Arnold said: “Even with those apprenticeships which are being created, almost half of them are going to people over 25 years old and already in work. I’m greatly in favour of supporting people to develop their careers, but the government’s approach leaves the apprenticeship programme utterly failing young people.

“The government’s meddling with the apprenticeship system has meant in-work training which would have happened anyway is gobbling up the limited funds. This is locking out young people who desperately want an apprenticeship to give them a first step on the career ladder.”

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “Over 40,000 people now start an apprenticeship every year in London, which is more than double the number starting four years ago.

“Thousands of new apprenticeships are being generated for young Londoners and that is part of the reason why the number not in education, employment or high quality training is now at its lowest total since records began.”