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Mayor Khan Launches £44M Skill Boost to Londoners, Creative Hub for Screen Industries

Mayor Sadiq Khan, Nexus Studios
Mayor Sadiq Khan | Nexus Studios

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Mayor Khan Launches £44M Skill Boost to Londoners, Creative Hub for Screen Industries

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today (Monday,  January 31) launched a major new skills program which will offer free training courses to buoy Londoners into good jobs and help address the growing skills shortage in the capital. In concert with the announcement, Khan visited Nexus Studios, an independent production and animation studio in Shoreditch, which supports and champions Londoners who are under-represented in the creative industries to get jobs.

The city’s economy is starting to show signs of recovery: The latest labor market statistics reveal that the unemployment rate in London continues to fall from the pandemic peak and is down 1.7 percent compared to the same period the previous year. Online postings for jobs in London are also back to pre-pandemic levels — however, a growing number of businesses are currently unable to find people with the skills they need.

“Many Londoners are facing an unprecedented squeeze on their budgets due to an increase in inflation, energy bills and National Insurance contributions, which are set to go up from April. As Mayor, I won’t sit by while people in our city struggle with the soaring cost of living. That’s why I’m taking action now to help Londoners acquire the skills that either allow them to earn more in their current roles or secure better-paying jobs,” said Khan.

The £44 million (about $59M USD) Mayor’s Academies Programme will coordinate and improve the quality of training in the capital, enabling anyone who is 19 and over and unemployed or in low-income work to access training courses for free at local colleges and adult education providers. This will mean that Londoners can retrain, learn or upskill and seize the new opportunities available on London’s growing job market.

The program will target priority industries such as green, digital, hospitality, health, social care and the creative and cultural sectors, to help ensure London emerges strongly from the pandemic. It will also work directly with employers in these sectors to build greater workforce diversity, ensuring groups that are underrepresented in London’s labor market are able to access high quality work. Khan today published his Skills Roadmap for London which outlines his vision for adult learning during this mayoral term to ensure it can better serve Londoners wanting to learn, upskill or change jobs.

A major new campaign featuring real-life stories from Londoners who have benefitted from adult learning will launch today across the Transport for London network to raise awareness of the thousands of free adult learning opportunities available in a range of sectors. This will expand to target social media content with education providers encouraged to get involved in promoting the campaign on their own channels.

In conjunction witht he program, London’s largest continuing education network Capital City College Group (CCCG) has  launched a new creative hub together with Film London and supported by Middlesex University and London Higher, which will fast-track Londoners into work in the film and TV industries by giving them the skills they need to start careers in this exciting and growing sector.

Run by CCCG’s Westminster Kingsway College, the Creative Academy Hub will work with employers to design education programs that will give the screen industry the skilled people they need to help their businesses to grow and to safeguard the future of the sector. It will offer skills training and education to help people into a wide range of jobs in the film, TV, animation, visual effects and games sectors, from supervisors, production carpenters and costumiers, to 3D animators, game developers, technicians and production managers, as well as legal, support and administrative roles.

“Today’s announcement by the Mayor couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Adiran Wootton OBE, Chief Executive of Film London and the British Film Commission. “Global demand for screen content is at an all-time high, creating opportunities at every level, from camera operator to caterer to costume designer to coder. So it’s vital that we continue to develop our talented, diverse workforce here in London, to capitalize on the demand and fill thousands of new jobs being created. Film London is delighted to partner on the new Skills Academy with Capital City College Group, supported by Middlesex University and London Higher. A unique consortium of the screen industry, learning providers and government, the new Creative Sector Screen Skills Academy will help Londoners acquire new skills, retrain and progress into good jobs within the sector.”

“What’s equally exciting,” Wootton continued, “is that, with London serving as the test bed, this initiative also has the potential to be scalable, offering a blueprint for similar screen skills academies to meet the needs of production hubs across the U.K. The academy will be working closely with ScreenSkills and the BFI, and its direction will be complementary to the BFI’s forthcoming Skills Review. This really will help cement the U.K.’s position as the leading centre for world-class content production.”

Further, the Hub will support people from under-represented and disadvantaged backgrounds on their journey to a successful screen industries career, including Black and ethnic minorities, young people, people earning below the London living wage, those with disabilities, the over 50s, single parents, caregivers and the unemployed.

“London has a well-deserved global reputation for its creative industries, but many Londoners are locked-out of careers in this growing sector. For example, only 13 percent of creative jobs are currently filled by people from Black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds,” noted Jas Sondhi, Vice Principle of WKC. “Other people also face barriers to creative careers too. Many people start by doing freelance work or taking low-paid jobs to get into the industry, but if you’re living on benefits, have caring responsibilities, or have been unemployed, you often can’t risk doing that, or you don’t have the skills that employers are looking for.

“As one of central London’s largest colleges, we teach thousands of people of all ages from these backgrounds every year. We also have a lot of experience of helping them into a variety of jobs and, drawing on our expertise and the knowledge and contacts of our partners, the new hub will make it easier for people to gain the skills and the confidence they need to break into these industries.”

The Creative Academy Hub also builds on CCCG’s work with the creative industry. As well as running courses across its college sites in central and north London, the Group is key partner in the 01Founders coding school – which teaches high-end coding skills regardless of previous education or experience and guarantees a job at the end of the course – and works with the NextGen Skills Academy to help young people into the visual effects and games industries.

The Hub’s tried and tested approach is designed to widen the pool of people who can work in the creative industries and increase the numbers of disadvantaged Londoners in the sector. It will include free skills training with short courses and bootcamps for people with other commitments, masterclasses and opportunities to gain work experience with employers, as well as extra support for people who need it – for example, building their confidence, CV and interview skills for those who are applying for jobs, networking opportunities, ‘meet the employers’ events and workshops.

CCCG secured over £735,000 to run the Creative Academy hub after a successful bid to the Mayor’s Academies Programme, which was first laid out in March 2021 as part of the London Recovery Plan. The Group has secured a total of £1.5M to run hubs in digital, hospitality, creative and green industries after successful bids.

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