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Capital celebrates Mayor’s skills and employment strategy

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Mayor of London Ken Livingston plans to plug the capital’s skills gap with the first ever London skills and employment strategy.

Backed by the £560m London Learning and Skills Council’s annual adult skills budget, the final strategy will recommend the steps that must be taken to meet the skills and employment challenges facing workers and businesses in the capital.

Targets include increasing London’s employment rate to 72 per cent by 2013, reducing the proportion of Londoners with no qualifications to 11 per cent by 2013 and increasing participation in training of those in work to 15 per cent over the same period.

Commenting on the proposals, Livingston said: “Significant new employment opportunities are emerging linked to major developments including Crossrail and the 2012 Games.

“However, whilst London employees are considerably more productive than the rest of the UK, Londoners experience some of the highest levels of worklessness in the country with particular inequalities in black, asian and ethnic minority communities, as well as amongst women and people with disabilities.”

He added: “We must ensure that all our citizens have the opportunities to contribute to and benefit from London’s success. This draft strategy starts an important debate about how we make best use of all our resources to draw on the talents of all Londoners.”

Joining Livingston at the launch of the proposals was Grant Hearn, chief executive of hotel chain Travelodge, who announced plans to help recruit up to 2,500 long-term unemployed into the tourism industry.

The chain plans to open 500 hotels across the UK by 2020 – 225 hotels in London – resulting in 10,000 new jobs nationwide. A quarter of the new employees could come from long-term unemployed as part of new schemes, says the budget hotel outfit.

Hearn said: “Too many barriers are preventing Londoners that are both in and out of work from getting the opportunities they deserve. We have a collective responsibility as London employers to help the more disadvantaged people in our communities find work – this proposal is a crucial step toward achieving that goal and reducing unemployment in the capital.”

According to the report, up to 30 per cent of the working age population in London are not in employment. The Conservative party has today revealed that more than 2.4 million people (10 per cent of working age population) have been claiming benefits for more than five years.

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Annie Hayes

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