Boris Johnson announces 28,000 apprenticeships in London as campaign hits target three months early

Drive to create more apprentices in the capital

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, today announced that his drive to create more apprentices in the capital has smashed its 20,000 target three months early and by almost 50 per cent.

Working in partnership with the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), the Mayor’s campaign has seen a total of 28,120 people finding places on schemes with companies across a wide range of the capital's business sectors.

Its success means that London’s share of apprenticeship starts has leapt from just five per cent to more than 8.5 per cent nationally in a year – the largest growth of anywhere in the country.

The Mayor and his ‘Apprenticeship Ambassador’ and former BBC ‘Apprentice’ winner Tim Campbell launched a major campaign in November last year to create 20,000 apprenticeships by September 2011. Boris Johnson lobbied and personally wrote to some of the capital's biggest employers, urging them to play their part in helping Londoners into work. 

The Mayor has led by example, creating around 2,000 apprenticeships in the past two years within the GLA Group and its contractors, through his responsible procurement programme.

A raft of big businesses responded to the Mayor's call and committed to creating apprenticeships, including Accenture, Microsoft, HSBC, Norton Rose and Channel 4. Today, a further crop of well-known companies, including Sky, Visa Europe, Reed Group, Capgemini, Veolia and the National Theatre all revealed details of new schemes.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “I am extremely grateful to everyone who has helped us rise to this important challenge. In difficult times it is vital that we do all we can to create jobs and opportunities for the next generation and that we invest in measures that will help us to recover more quickly and convincingly. Whether it’s in banking, financial services, technology, media or the arts, we've sought to ensure that these young people are poised to take advantage of any opportunities that arise for them in the future, so that London is well poised to lead the rest of the UK out of recession.”

John Hayes, Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning said:  “Apprenticeships are back where they belong at the heart of our education and training system. The Government is building the biggest and best apprenticeships programme our country has ever seen because we want to rebuild a sense of purposeful pride in our young people, and give businesses the high level skills they need to drive growth and prosperity. On my watch, we'll support 250,000 more places than under the previous Government's plans.”

Simon Waugh, Executive Chairman of the National Apprenticeship Service, said: “‘The number of apprentices taking an Advanced or Higher Apprenticeship has almost doubled since last year and our relationship with the Mayor of London and the GLA is crucial to sustain this drive and increase the level and quality of Apprenticeships across London. Visa Europe, Sky, Capgemini, Reed Partnership, the National Theatre and Veolia have now made commitments and we want to see more employers follow their example."


Businesses today announcing their commitment to apprenticeships

Sky has created almost 30 new apprenticeships, which will be based at its west London offices as part of its commitment to increasing the number of opportunities it offers young people and supporting the Mayor’s initiative.

Deborah Baker, Sky’s Director for People, said: “We’re proud to be supporting this initiative by offering new and exciting apprenticeships at Sky where young people from across London will get the chance to work in the creative media industry. The placements will give candidates experiences of working behind the scenes at Sky as part of our Broadcast Operations, Drama or News teams or at the cutting edge of technology as part of our Sky Networks team. We are investing in developing the skills of young people as we see them as a crucial part of the long term success of our business.”

Visa Europe is creating a total of 19 apprenticeship roles starting at the end of this summer at its European headquarters in Westminster. One role is being created in the finance department and six business and administration positions will be created to offer apprentices a chance to work across all Visa Europe's business divisions. A further twelve will be created in Processing Operations.

Peter Ayliffe, Chief Executive at Visa Europe, said: “We are always looking for ambitious and hard working individuals to join our team which is why the business recognised the importance of investing in young talent through apprenticeships. Payments are changing with the growth of e-commerce and developments such as contactless and mobile payments. These apprentices will be joining us at a very exciting time."

Leading recycling and waste management company Veolia Environmental Services has committed 300 places a year from 2011 as part of its apprenticeship scheme.

Jean-Dominique Mallet, Chief Executive Officer, Veolia Environmental Services (UK) Plc said: “Developing and equipping our future workforce has always been a critical element of how we want to drive our organisation forward as evidenced by the apprentices here with us today. As part of our ongoing development we have committed 300 places a year from 2011 into our apprenticeship scheme. This involves a significant investment of £2.5 million in learning and development.

“Our aim at Veolia Environmental Services is to help fill the industry skills gap by encouraging more apprenticeships throughout our business and to provide them with the opportunity to take on real work challenges in addition to gaining vital site experience in order that they can develop and contribute positively to the company and communities in which we work.“

Reed Group has announced that over the next year up to 100 people will begin apprenticeships with the company in various roles across London.

Tom Millar, Director, Learning2Work & Business Support at Reed in Partnership, said: “Our business relies on recognising talent and understanding the needs of employers. Our decision to create this apprenticeship scheme is testament to our faith that our Apprentices will have a positive impact on the productivity and success of our organisations.”

Leading management consulting and information technology services group Capgemini are set to create places for 24 apprentices in software development.

Christine Hodgson, UK Chairman, Capgemini said: “We are proud to be part of the Mayor’s London Apprenticeship Campaign by launching Capgemini’s first Higher Apprentice Programme in software development. Our first 24 Higher Apprentices will be from London and will join us in September this year to start with hands on work experience while studying for a degree in Computing & IT Practice from the Open University. This is an extension of the apprenticeship scheme we established in 2008 and is the first time we have sought an alternative to IT graduates, which have traditionally been the requirement not only of our company, but the IT industry as a whole. We expect to have a new generation of qualified developers and engineers who have been through the scheme working on some of our key clients.”

The National Theatre will be creating two technical apprenticeships starting in January 2012 to work across stage, lighting, sound and automation.

Tony Peers, Head of Human Resources at the National Theatre, said: “The National’s new apprenticeships stem from our determination to open up pathways into all aspects of theatre-making for young people, to offer a wide range of training opportunities, including the in-depth training offered by an apprenticeship, and to invest in the skills that will help sustain our industry. We intend to broaden the apprenticeship programme across other areas of the Theatre in due course.”

Notes to editors:  


1. The National Apprenticeships Service (NAS) matches would-be apprentices with employers. Businesses contacting NAS will be able to discuss their needs; talk through the types of apprenticeships available, signpost them towards relevant training providers and advertise for a suitable apprentice. 100 per cent of funding for the training is provided for apprentices aged 16 to 18 and up to 50 per cent for those over 19.

2. Apprenticeships places are hugely over-subscribed in London with 17 would-be apprentices applying for each place. The Mayor's Campaign is about encouraging businesses to offer more apprenticeship places, allowing people to earn while they learn.

3. Apprentices earn a wage and work alongside experienced staff to gain job-specific skills. Off the job - usually on a day-release basis - apprentices receive training to work towards nationally recognised qualifications. Anyone living in England, over 16 and not in full-time education can apply. Apprenticeships can take between one and four years to complete depending on the level of apprenticeship, the apprentices’ ability and the industry sector.

4. The strategy behind the London Apprenticeship Campaign was not only to achieve an overall apprenticeships target but to focus on growing apprentices in sectors relevant to London's economy. Whilst it takes time to achieve culture change - and it can often take six months or more to adjust a company’s recruitment strategy to take on apprentices - we are starting to see positive signs of change across target sectors.

5. The GLA group is leading by example, with over 2000 apprentices employed directly or within the supply chain. The GLA Group are on track to achieve 3000 apprenticeships by 2012. Last week a young apprentice at London Underground won the National EDI ‘Apprentice of the Year’ award, run by the National Apprenticeships Service. Shauni O'Neill, 18, is due to complete her Rail Transport Operation Apprenticeship with London Underground in mid July. She will then take up her new role as a customer service assistant at Hendon Central Tube station. The GLA group has also been recognised by as one of the Top 100 Apprenticeships Employers.