London's skills system: challenges and opportunities

25 May 2017

Hang Ho is a member of the Mayor’s Skills for Londoners Taskforce. She is the Head of Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America for the JP Morgan Chase Foundation and oversees work to open up economic opportunities and improve social mobility through skills and jobs. She tells us how the taskforce will help equip Londoners and businesses with the skills they need to succeed…

Why did you want to join the Mayor’s Skills for Londoners Taskforce?

I’m excited to be part of the taskforce for two reasons. The first is that I’ll be able to help shape the Mayor’s new skills strategy for London, bringing vital input from business and the private sector. The second is because it’s a chance to set the foundation for the upcoming devolution to London, starting with the adult education budget. 

What are you hoping Skills for Londoners will achieve? 

I hope we can help develop a coherent and coordinated skills strategy. It must deliver the skills that both the people and businesses of London need. For this, we need a system that aligns training provision to employers’ needs, has clearly signposted transition steps and accountability in terms of results and data. This will help us work out what does and doesn’t work. It will also help both the public and private sectors to better invest money into these activities to ensure the solutions work for everyone.

What are the challenges facing London’s skills system?  

London’s broad challenges stem from it being a large complex city. As such, it requires a lot of effort around coordination. The London economy has an exaggerated hourglass shape. There are many jobs with low skills and many jobs at the high end, but few in the middle. That creates more challenges for people to move from the low end to the high end.  There are few steps in between for progression. I also believe the nature of London’s economy means its employers are not the most proactive in embarking on the apprenticeship agenda. That’s something we’ll be targeting through Skills for Londoners.

What are the opportunities?  

One is the devolution of the adult education budget. This presents a real chance to create a skills system that will actually respond to London’s labour market needs.  Then there is London’s economy. It’s dynamic, and it’s growing. There are plenty of economic opportunities here. 

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