By Ruth McKee
LONDON mayoral candidate Boris Johnson has pledged that apprentices working in the capital will get the same cheap travel entitlements as full-time students if he succeeds in his re-election bid.
On a visit to a chemical plant in Brimsdown, the incumbent mayor told the Advertiser that if re-elected, apprentices, who are currently entitled to an apprentice national wage if they are aged between 16 and 18 or in the first year of their apprenticeship, could claim the same 30 per cent travel reduction that full-time students in the capital get with the student Oyster travelcard.
“In our campaign launch we announced that we are getting apprentices the same rights to cut price travel as students in full-time education,” Mr Johnson said, when asked what his campaign had to offer young people struggling to cope with the rising cost of living.
Mr Johnson’s promise comes after his main rival Ken Livingston, promised to slash fares and reinstate the educational maintenance allowance in a bid to appeal to cash-strapped voters in London.
Mr Johnson used today’s visit to Enfield to pledge his support for apprenticeship schemes in London and said: “The most important thing we can do for young people is to get our target of 100,000 apprenticeships set up in the capital.
“We are already on course for that with 54,000 apprenticeships already established.”
But although every one of the 14 apprentices at the plant scheme were young men, a pattern which tends to be echoed across similar industrial and engineering schemes, Mr Johnson flatly denied that backing apprenticeships over other educational qualifications risks a further rise in female unemployment.
He said: “We need to demystify what people think apprenticeships are. There are all sorts of jobs across the board that are open to apprenticeship schemes with opportunities for young people of both sexes.”
But although the mayor, told the gathered apprentices that “as a country we got obsessed with higher education” when asked if he felt that practical schemes should replace formal academic qualifications the Oxford graduate was quick to stress that “education is the great liberator”.
“I’m a great believer in education,” Mr Johnson stressed. “Education is the great liberator, but higher education, university, is not right for everyone.”
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