The South London Partnership is launching its skills strategy Skills for South Londoners at a conference with employers and skills providers today.
High levels of skills, employment and entrepreneurship are characteristic of this part of London – comprising the boroughs of Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Richmond upon Thames and Sutton – that contributes £28 billion a year to the UK economy. Longstanding strengths in business administration, health, professional scientific and technical, retail and education sectors, have in recent years been supplemented by significant growth in high tech and creative sectors.
But behind these positive headlines, there are still challenges: over 94,000 people have no or low skills, and one in five working age residents earns below the London Living Wage. And the world of work is changing fast – with digitisation and automation but two emerging trends – there are challenges and opportunities ahead.
The South London Partnership boroughs are committed to working together and with partners in business and colleges to build a more responsive skills system, with the twin goals of:
- equipping our young people and all our residents with relevant skills, versatility, adaptability and resilience to secure sustainable employment and support their wider wellbeing throughout their lives; and
- supporting the growth and productivity of the sub-regional economy, ensuring that existing and future employers can access a ready pool of suitably qualified, resilient workers and can secure learning and training to support their workforce and business development.
The Skills for South Londoners Strategy builds on an evidence base of data and discussion with employers and skills providers. It notes the opportunities to make changes to the technical and vocational skills system in London with the devolution of the Adult Education Budget to the Mayor from 2019, in which the South London Partnership will play an active role to ensure that the changes better meet the needs of our residents and businesses.
The strategy identifies some early priorities for action, in the light of the current skills issues in South London including: strengthening careers information and guidance, shaping more effective in-work training for those on low pay, strengthening basic digital skills for all, increasing apprenticeships and securing the skills to support our burgeoning tech sector.
Councillor Ruth Dombey, Leader of Sutton Council and the South London Partnership Skills Lead, said:
“The South London Partnership has ambitious plans for growth, investment and development throughout the sub-region.
“It is essential that residents are equipped with the skills required to harness future opportunities with access to high quality training, reflecting new and emerging technologies and responsive to the needs of our businesses.
“The South London Skills Strategy will seek to ensure all residents have the resilience to adapt to the future world of work and support businesses and develop a sustainable workforce, boosting productivity and economic growth.
“We are committed to delivering the aspirations of the South London Skills Strategy, collaborating with our sub-regional partners to drive the growth of our local economy and job opportunities for our residents throughout their working life.”
The Leader of Merton Council and Chair of the South London Partnership Councillor Stephen Alambritis said:
“The Skills for South Londoners launch event will be an occasion for the residents of Merton, and those from our neighbouring boroughs, to find out what skills are needed in the area and what businesses and providers are doing to address these.
“In order to ensure that south London secures the best outcome from the new devolved system, it is essential that we are all reading off the same page by working closely together as a coalition of boroughs, businesses and providers. We are privileged to have some outstanding organisations in our area, who share our business-like approach in providing residents with value for money and high quality levels of service.
For more information about Skills for South Londoners or the work of the South London Partnership visit www.southlondonpartnership.co.uk .