Improving London's Employment Opportunities

The capital of the UK has among the highest levels of unemployment in the south east. Furthermore, although there are very many job opportunities within the city, London also has relatively low levels of participation in the labour market. This is partly because so many of the capital's jobs are taken by people who commute into the city from the home counties and beyond. However, there are other underlying reasons for this state of affairs, too. Both the national government and the mayor's office have - for a number of years - attempted to improve the situation of Londoners with regards to employment and there have been a variety of schemes in certain boroughs which have aimed to get locals into work.

According to the London Plan, a development document for the Greater London Authority, for the city to go on to being a dynamic and competitive city that occupies an enviable position on the world stage, the capital's resources must be directed to make sure that all Londoners are given the opportunities necessary to make the most of their potential. This, the plan states, must incorporate and harness the opportunities that the expected increase in population will demand. The idea is that London's residents and workforce need to be able to benefit from working opportunities by removing existing barriers to work. However, there is also a great deal of emphasis on individual responsibility and the plan goes on to add that Londoners who are out of work need to learn the new skills demanded by businesses in the fast changing commercial environment

Technological Advances and E-business

One of the ways that London's leaders have identified that out of work people can gain a competitive edge when it comes to landing a job in their own city, is to improve their skill-base. Because so much of London's growth is in the financial service sector, the ability to deal with technological advances - when they come about - is essential.

According to the plan, Londoners without basic information technology skills, for example, need to be able to access computers in order to learn the essentials. Where Londoners are in employment - or have recently been in employment - they need to be able to continue with adult learning in order to keep up with the latest technological developments. Although the idea is to keep London's available workforce up-skilled with computer technology, the plan is not necessarily to develop people with all the essential skills to immediately enter the financial services market. Rather, the approach is a broader one where individuals will be well-versed in e-business and computer technology so that they are sufficiently well-educated to enter an industry sector that supports the City, perhaps in an administrative role.

This approach means that London should continue to compete with other world cities in years to come. Without a workforce that is up to scratch - it is feared - international organisations and corporations will simply relocate away from the UK to areas where they can access the right sort of skilled workers. Indeed, London has to compete with other centres of technological excellence within the UK, such as Aberdeen, Oxford, Cambridge, Leeds and Swansea.

Additions to the London Plan

When the London Plan was drawn up it included sections on how contractors must interact with local workers for big projects, like the London 2012 Olympic Games, for example. Given that some of its content soon became out of date, the Mayor's Office decided to update it. By May 2013, for instance, the projected population growth of the capital was revised to be an increase of 850,000 by 2036. Between 2011 and 2036, the plan states that there will be an increase of jobs that require a degree level qualification to access of some 800,000. As a result, there is likely to be an increase in the number of workers who are 65 years of age in that period in London's labour market, the majority of which will likely to be qualified to degree level or higher. In other words, the expectation is that employers will continue t o keep highly educated people in posts beyond previously expected retirement dates in order to fulfil a probable skills shortage.

The Greater London Authority's expectation is that the capital's future employment trajectory - along with its demand for skills - will be one of the main forces impacting on the economy of the city. According to the revised London Plan, growth in the economy, viewed from a per head basis, depends very much on the ability to improve individual employees' productivity. There are many ways of improving the productivity of Londoners and one of the chief ones is to improve their skill level.

Transport

Another way of getting Londoners into work is to provide them with the access requirements they have in terms of transport. Part of the Greater London Authority's plan is to improve transport links throughout the capital so that all Londoners can easily reach a potential place of employment, thus improving their chances of landing a job that meets their level of skill and education.