Boris begs firms: Fight youth job crisis with 50,000 apprentices

Boris Johnson today urged firms to help tackle rising youth unemployment in London by taking on almost 50,000 apprentices by the end of the year.

The Mayor revealed he had lacked a “competitive understanding” of the world of work in his first job as a management consultant and could have benefited from the scheme himself.

He told the Standard: “I remember the shock of turning up and being in a suit and the kind of scorn of everybody else in the office that I seemed a bit lackadaisical.

“I wasn’t really conscious of what it took to be in a place of work and I think the apprenticeship scheme gives confidence and competitive understanding of how the world of work operates.”

Mr Johnson has secured £6 million from the Government to offer small firms a £1,500 cash incentive for taking on an apprentice. They can also receive up to 100 per cent funding towards their training costs. In London, small and medium-size firms are already responsible for the majority of the 63,700 apprenticeships on offer since 2010. The Mayor has pledged to hit the 100,000 mark by the end of this year.

He added that apprenticeships would help tackle the growing problem of youth unemployment. “In what has been a difficult time for the London economy, it’s a great way of getting young people into work,” he said.

“You’ve got a generation now who are at risk of missing out on golden opportunities. New jobs in London don’t always go to young Londoners. This is a way of trying to address that.”

Mr Johnson’s campaign is focused on “white collar” firms not traditionally associated with apprenticeships but who can be persuaded they will create highly motivated and loyal staff. Big employers, including the Football Association, music giant Sony and HSBC, have also signed up to the scheme.

Deputy mayor for business Kit Malthouse said he had benefited from a professional training to get into his first career — chartered accountancy.

“It would have been a lot more difficult without the traineeship as I had no money,” he said. “I came out of university with an overdraft and it would have been hard to get to any level of professional proficiency in any other way.

“There is nothing more important to the future of the city than getting young people into work.”

He said his first job, while at school, was washing up in a restaurant kitchen in his native Liverpool. “In those days they didn’t have non-stick pans, so it was just me and my Brillo pad.”

There is more demand for some apprenticeships than for Oxford University places, with on average 16 applications for every vacancy.

Paul Champion

📱: 07540 704920

Twitter: @blogapprentice
Skype: paulchampion31

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