I attended the London Councils London Government Summit last week alongside leaders from every London borough. It was an opportunity for us to discuss key London issues, including the increasingly urgent problem of high youth unemployment.
Youth unemployment rates are still worryingly high, with the capital having a particularly poor record – the second highest in the country.
But London’s businesses can help make a difference. They have a real opportunity and indeed a responsibility to help young people to develop their skills and get them into work – for the good of society, community and the economy.
Here in the City, we are supporting businesses to recruit inclusively, procure responsibly, and encourage employee volunteering, including through the Heart of the City network and through City Philanthropy, which aims to encourage a new generation of City workers to give their money, time and talent.
And we run a variety of projects to support young people in and around the City to gain skills and access work experience.
Projects like the City of London Business Traineeship run by our partners the Brokerage Citylink – which matches students from state schools and colleges in the City fringes with paid work placements with City firms – and City Action – which brings volunteers from City businesses into neighbouring communities – demonstrate our long-standing commitment to economic and social regeneration in the capital.
Businesses realise that they have a huge part to play in providing young people with aspiration, skills and the opportunity to find good jobs.
Just last Wednesday we hosted an event at 20 Fenchurch Street in partnership with Vanquis Bank.
Thirteen City businesses met with representatives of our responsible business team and our charitable funder, City Bridge Trust, to explore what more can be done to help young people into work and to develop more responsible business practices in the City.
There is, rightly, growing pressure on businesses to demonstrate commitment – to society and the environment – through both proactive initiatives and ensuring they operate responsibly.
Such changes can be a vital contribution to a more prosperous and inclusive London, and is something that we at the City of London Corporation are seeking to drive on a local level.
Our report, the City Business Guide, highlights the vital role that City institutions can play in reducing youth unemployment. It calls on City businesses to do more to help young people into work, giving advice to help firms work together, improve their responsible business practices and develop more targeted support for young people struggling to access City jobs.
We know London’s competitiveness is hinged on its ability to attract and retain a workforce with a broad range of skills. That is what makes our economy a global success and a hub for innovation. The challenge that all of us must rise to is to find ways of giving young Londoners a fulfilling role in their capital’s success.