2. Enhancing adult learning in light of the consequences and opportunities of the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic poses unprecedented challenges to London’s economy and labour market. London emerged as an epicentre of the pandemic in the UK and one of the worst hit large cities in Europe. Economically, the pandemic has not only resulted in an unparalleled economic shock with significant repercussions for firms and workers, but it could also accelerate structural changes that were already in motion before the pandemic. Megatrends such as automation, job polarisation or digitalisation have been transforming the world of work and are likely to be reinforced by the pandemic and measures to contain and live with it. As social distancing and teleworking became the new normal for millions of workers, COVID-19 appears to be a catalyst for long-lasting change in the way firms operate and people work.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on certain sectors and groups of workers, make adult learning in London more important than ever. As sectors such as hospitality, tourism, or the creative industries experienced an erosion of their current business models, hundreds of thousands of workers have been put at risk of job loss. As long as the pandemic lasts, a full recovery is likely to take years for these sectors, even if a return to the “pre-COVID-19 normal” takes place. Many of the workers that face the highest job risks due to the crisis were already disadvantaged before the pandemic. The low skilled and young appear to bear the brunt of the economic crisis and will need sufficient learning opportunities to gain new skills or to retrain in order to find a job or make a career transition.

COVID-19 is an enormous shock that has caused a historically unparalleled fall in economic activity in London. Despite a strong recovery in the summer months of 2020, London’s real gross value added is still expected to fall by 10.5% in 2020 (GLA Economics, 2020[1]). While current projections for 2021 and 2022 predict fast growth (+7.9% and 4.7%, respectively), a full recovery to pre-COVID levels is likely not to occur before mid-2022. In terms of job loss, government support schemes have provided a strong support mechanism but a significant contraction of London’s labour market in 2021 is expected.

The pandemic creates new challenges for London’s economy and threatens to exacerbate already existing labour market inequalities. This section analyses the impact of COVID-19 on London’s economy. First, it provides an overview of London’s economy, its relative strengths compared to other OECD metropolitan areas, and its challenges in terms of labour market inequalities. Second, it assesses the effects of COVID-19 on job losses, economic inactivity, vacancies, and specific sectors in London. Third, it examines how the pandemic is changing the economic geography and the way people work in London. Fourth, it examines how furloughed and displaced workers could benefit from public support, mainly through an effective adult learning and career guidance system.

As the United Kingdom’s capital and one of the leading financial services hubs of the world, London boasts a strong economy with an internationally competitive labour market.1 With its population of around 9 million inhabitants (more than 13% of the UK’s population of 66.8 million),2 Greater London contributes almost 24% of the national GDP. The economic importance of London has steadily grown in recent years (Figure 2.1). While London’s share of the national population grew by 9%, its contribution to the national GDP has increased by 17% between 2000 and 2018.

Over the past decade, London, like most parts of the UK, has benefitted from a boom in employment, which has driven a significant reduction in unemployment. Since 2010, the unemployment rate in London has fallen from 9.4% to 4.4% in 2019. Over the same period, labour market participation of those over 15 years old also increased by 3 percentage points, reaching 68.2% in 2019, 5 percentage points above the UK average.3 This surge in new employment opportunities has not only increased material welfare but also enhanced socio-economic mobility as vulnerable groups such as the young or low skilled enjoyed better access to jobs and fewer difficulties in entering the labour market.

Internationally, data on economic activity, productivity, labour market trends, and income document the strength of London’s economy. In a comparison with other major OECD metropolitan areas, London records the highest disposable income level (Annex Table 2.A.1). Furthermore, London is among the top 40% in terms of economic activity as measured by GDP per capita. Equally, it had relatively high labour productivity of almost USD 120 000 per worker in 2018, making it the metropolitan area with the seventh highest productivity level out of 18 OECD metropolitan areas.4 London also reports relatively high labour market participation and low long-term unemployment rates. Finally, it benefits from a large pool of highly qualified workers, as documented by the second highest share of graduates with a tertiary degree (53.6%), only trailing Toronto where almost two-thirds of the labour force have completed tertiary education.

Despite strong economic growth, some parts of London lag behind economically and have much higher levels of deprivation than other parts of the UK capital. Based on ONS data, multi-level deprivation including factors such as income, employment, health, or education and skills, is more than twice as common in the poorest boroughs as in the most affluent boroughs of London.5 In the 10 most deprived boroughs, the pre-COVID unemployment rate and economic activity rates reached 5% and 22%, compared to 4.3% and 19.7% in the 10 least deprived boroughs. Differences within London are especially striking for youth not in employment, education or training (NEET). In London’s 10 most deprived boroughs, 6.5% of youth are not in employment, education or training (Figure 2.3). In contrast, the NEET rate only amounts to 3.1% in the 10 least deprived boroughs. These labour market inequalities leave some parts of London, its most deprived boroughs, and their residents more exposed to economic crises. The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to exacerbate these inequalities across London. In responding to the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, policy makers will need to find solutions for these disadvantaged areas to prevent further inequality (see Figure 2.4 for geographic differences in deprivation across London).

Notwithstanding the overall positive development over the past decade, London’s labour market faces both novel as well as structural challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic is already having a severe impact on lives, jobs, wages and inequality in London. London had some of the country’s highest COVID-19 mortality rates in March 2020 due to high levels of deprivation in some areas. To prevent a lost generation of young people who enter the labour market and workers who are losing their jobs, London needs proactive plans to help those groups most affected by the recession.

Data from the ONS showed the UK’s economy shrank by 20.4 per cent in April – the first full month of lockdown – suggesting the UK is on course for a historic recession. According to September 2020 estimates, the London economy will contract by more than 10% in 2020 (GLA Economics, 2020[1]). Nowcasting data from ESCOE show that London’s Q3 2020 gross value added was 11.2% below its level in 2019, meaning London has experienced the worst contraction apart from Wales among all UK regions (Koop et al., 2019[3]). This contraction is smaller than initially feared but the negative impact is concentrated on certain sectors and is more pronounced for low-paid and low skill jobs. Already, the crisis has led to a considerable fall in employment and, given a significant drop in vacancies as well as the pending rollback of government aid such as the furlough scheme, the pandemic is likely to have long-lasting effects.

During the peak of the pandemic in the spring 2020, London lost thousands of jobs as lockdown measures hit the economy. Compared to the preceding three months, the employment rate of 16-64 year olds between April and June 2020 fell by 0.4 percentage points (to 76.5%) in London, a decrease that was more pronounced than the national figures, as the UK employment rate fell by 0.2 percentage points. While the unemployment rate in London appeared to be unaffected, economic inactivity rose by 0.3 percentage points in London. As new containment measures become necessary, more jobs could be at risk. Recent OECD estimates suggest the share of jobs in sectors most directly impacted by containment measures varies from less than 15% to more than 35% across regions, with large cities and tourist destinations such as London having a higher share of jobs at risk (OECD, 2020[4]). In fact, as of October 8 2020, the number of universal credit and jobseeker allowance claims has increased by 5% across London compared to last year (Figure 2.5).

These headline figures do not reveal the full extent of the labour market impact of COVID-19. Although overall economic activity in London dropped significantly, with its GDP by more than 19% between March and May 2020, government support schemes have provided a cushion against fast rising unemployment and income shocks (GLA Economics, 2020[5]). The UK government expanded the entitlement to unemployment related benefits and introduced a far-reaching furlough scheme (see Box 2.2 for more details). Together, these measures are providing support to around 2 million London residents.6

Benefits claims in the UK capital have gone up by 160% between February 2020 and January 2021, with young workers being affected the most. In London, the number of claims by residents aged 16 or older has increased by almost 300 000, reaching a total of 485 000 in January 2021 (GLA, 2021[6]) . Among young workers aged 25-29, claims even rose by almost 250%. The rise in claim counts is significantly higher than for the UK overall, where claims increased by 117% (or almost 1.5 million). London experienced the second highest relative increase of all UK regions, only exceeded by the South East (+154%). Due to the size of its economy and the large rise in local claims, London accounted for a fifth of all new benefit claims in the UK.

While London’s economy is losing jobs, its firms are also significantly reducing hiring efforts. Compared to the average number of vacancies posted online throughout 2019, London has seen a drop in available vacant jobs of more than 50% by August 2020 (Figure 2.6). While all regions and countries of the UK saw lower vacancies numbers following the start of the pandemic, London experienced a significantly larger decrease (- 52.1%) in the number of vacancies than the UK overall (-45.5%). The only region In the UK with a larger fall in vacancies, relative to the 2019 average, is Yorkshire and The Humber (- 55.6%). In comparison to London, firms’ hiring decisions in Wales, Northern Ireland, or the East Midlands appear to be considerably less affected, with vacancies having decreased by around 30-35%.

The economic impact of the crisis is concentrated on sectors of London’s economy that have been particularly hard hit by containment measures and those sectors are unlikely to recover quickly. Certain sectors such as hospitality, leisure, tourism, and the creative industries have been devastated. Since February 2020, these sectors reported revenue declines of more than 30%. Current estimates predict that the three sectors with the greatest decline in real gross value added in 2020 will be Accommodation and foods services (-30.1%), arts, entertainment, and recreation (-25.3%), and education (-24.7%) (Figure 2.7). The recovery for the accommodation and entertainment sectors is likely to be slow as international tourism is anticipated to decrease by 60-80% in 2020, and is not expected to rebound quickly (OECD, 2020[7]) (see Box 2.3). Other sectors that face significant contraction include construction and manufacturing, with a predicted fall in revenue in 2020 of around 19% and 17% respectively.

The bulk of employment loss in London will likely materialise in 2021 and could cause long-term scarring effects for workers. Across London, current estimates predict a relatively small reduction of employment in 2020 but a much larger fall in 2021, with total employment to decline between 5.6% and 2.8%, depending on the speed of the economic recovery (GLA Economics, 2020[1]). Based on the scenario of a gradual return to economic growth (as opposed to persistently low economic growth or fast economic recovery), several sectors could see drastic falls in employment. Jobs in accommodation and food service activities could fall by 10.5%. Several other sectors, including arts, entertainment and recreation, education, or manufacturing could also a decline in the number of jobs of 7.5% or more. While the true extent of employment losses will only be clear in several months’ time and depend on the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic, job losses in London will be concentrated on specific sectors and certain groups of workers. Displaced workers could see lower earnings for years while young workers who enter the labour market during this economic crisis could not only suffer from lower earnings but also lower life satisfaction.

COVID-19 has brought about a new normal of remote working. As social distancing and confinement measures made traditional office-based work difficult to uphold, employers and employees throughout the OECD embraced telework. Wherever possible, businesses have undergone a transformation to operating virtually, with an enormous surge in the use of videoconferencing technologies. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), only 1.7 million people in the UK worked from home before the pandemic. At the height of the national lockdown in the UK, this number rose to more than 20 million people.

Not all local economies have been able to shift towards remote working. The extent to which remote working is feasible differs significantly across OECD regions and cities. The share of jobs that are amenable to teleworking depends on the structure of the local economy and the types of jobs that are locally available (see Box 2.4 for a detailed explanation). Jobs differ in in their tasks content, which in turn determine whether the job can be performed remotely or not. For instance, many high skill jobs in the service sector are amenable to teleworking, whereas low-paid service jobs that require physical proximity or jobs in the manufacturing industry have a low potential for remote working.

No other city or region across the OECD has a greater capacity for remote working than London. In a comparison of OECD regions, London ranks first in terms of jobs amenable to teleworking (Figure 2.8). Overall, around 55% of jobs in London can easily be transitioned to teleworking.8 This places London significantly above the UK average (43%) and other major OECD cities such as Zurich (47%), Stockholm (51%), Hamburg (44%) or Washington DC (47%), all of which have the highest teleworking capacity in their respective country. This adaptability of London’s economy is a major asset; without it, COVID-19 could have had an even more severe impact on London’s economy. Furthermore, it boosts resilience if future shocks should arise or if additional lockdown measures could become necessary. However, there is a growing risk that the London’s labour market is increasingly divided along a new line determined by individuals’ skill level, between those who telework and do not travel as much within or into the city and those, especially low-skilled workers, who cannot telework and thus face unemployment and a lack of job growth in their sectors (Espinoza and Reznikova, 2020[15]).

While remote-work has kept parts of London’s economy running, it changes the economic geography of London and threatens the viability of the service industry in the city’s central parts. The shift away from office-based work towards remote working in combination with other COVID-19 measures have led to a dramatic fall in transport use in London and the UK. Commuting numbers have plummeted, which has hit Central London particularly hard. Before COVID-19, more than 900,000 people, or around a fifth of London’s workforce, commuted into London on a daily basis. Commuters constituted a vital source of customers for Central London’s service economy, ranging from cafés and restaurants to high-street stores.

Since March, commuting in and to London has fallen by more than 50%. Many parts of Central London, normally busy with office workers, tourists, and shoppers, are especially quiet. Use of the Transport for London Tube services and Transport for London Bus services still remain significantly below their usual passenger numbers, remaining at 40% and 60% of the transport use of the same period in 2019 (Figure 2.9). Many workers use the National Rail services in normal times to travel to London from commuter towns. However, National Rail service use is also down by around 60% compared to 2019. While the initial drop in transport use was driven by the fact that most non-key workers stayed at home, the slow recovery of transport use suggests a sustained and potentially long-lasting reduction in commuting flows to London.

For businesses in Central London or central parts of other big cities, the loss of commuters results in significantly subdued business activity. Overall, high-street footfall in the UK in July 2020 was down by 42% compared with a year ago and for high-street businesses, the fall was even higher at 47.5%. The lack of commuters compounds the negative effects of the reduction foreign tourism. In contrast, online retail business has soared, with non-store retail revenues growing by 28.6% in January to August 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 (ONS, 2020[16]). According to the Centre for Cities’ high streets recovery tracker, London has experienced one of the slowest high-street recoveries of cities and large towns in the UK (Centre for Cities, 2020[17]). In London, footfall remains the third lowest compared to pre-lockdown levels. In terms of high street spending, London has had the slowest recovery in the UK, with high-street spending at half the pre-lockdown level (Figure 2.10).

The business model and, therefore, the jobs associated with service providers in Central London faces significant uncertainty. As a survey from the British Council for Offices (BCO) suggests, the pandemic appears to have changed working patterns for good. In the future, many white-collar workers plan to adopt a mixed approach, combining several days a week in the office with remote working (Guardian, 5 October 202[18]). Almost half of all respondents (46%) stated planning to divide time between remote work and office work over the coming six months. An additional 15% intend to shift completely to remote work. While this paradigm shift might help boost local economies in commuter belt downs, it will also erode the business model of some of Central London’s high-street stores and, thus, create a risk of redundancy for many workers.

The UK furlough schemes offers an even more telling view of the severity and the uneven impact of the crisis on London’s economy than unemployment statistics. Rapid action by the central government protected millions of jobs in the UK. If not for government support, many enterprises in London would have faced even greater financial difficulties and, consequently, hundreds of thousands of jobs could have been lost in London. While the furlough scheme has shielded local economies across the UK, it begs the question of what will happen once furlough ends.

The end of the central government’s furlough schemes, which has supported millions of workers during the pandemic, will pose a serious threat for London’s labour market. At its peak, around 1.4 million Londoners were furloughed and even now, many Londoners remain on furlough. As of the end of July 2020, of the 4.8 million people furloughed in the UK, more than 700 000 are in London. London has not only the highest absolute number of furloughed employees among all regions of the UK but it also has the highest furlough take-up rate at 17%, as the proportion of jobs on furlough is higher than anywhere else in the UK (Figure 2.11).9

Some sectors have a particular strong reliance on furlough and thus face heightened risks of employment loss. Across the UK, more than 900 000 workers in the accommodation and foods services sector (or 43% of the overall workforce) are still on furlough (Figure 2.12). In arts and entertainment, almost half of all employees (45% or around 300 000 in total) also rely on furlough. Such sectors have lost their revenue base and face additional difficulties due to the lack of foreign tourists and, in London’s case, the shift away from central office work to remote working. Therefore, the economic recovery of these sectors will be slow, which threatens associated jobs as the furlough support ends in October. Furthermore, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) make greater use of the furlough scheme than large enterprises since they tend to have smaller financial reserves and, often, cannot react as quickly to implement new work methods such as digital tools to continue business (Table 2.1). As a result, risks of insolvency and job loss could also be more concentrated among SMEs than large enterprises.

The COVID-19 could exacerbate existing labour market inequalities when furlough ends as disadvantaged groups bear the brunt of the crisis. The sectoral concentration of furlough take-up reveals that the impact of the economic crisis is relatively worse in sectors with low-skilled employees. Furthermore, the young, another vulnerable group, also disproportionately rely on furloughed employment. Across the UK, take-up rates range between 26% and 31% for all age groups apart from those aged 16-25, among which 44% are furloughed.10

Even though the full impact of COVID-19 is still to materialise, the documented recent trends in economic activity, employment and firms’ vacancies suggest that the repercussions will be huge and long lasting. To ensure a successful and sustainable economic recovery, policy makers need to enable workers on furlough to pre-emptively participate in adult learning and facilitate workers to transition into different or new jobs. Adult learning will be essential in this quest as it offers workers opportunities to develop skills, re-train, and thus enhances their employability and resilience. In sectors with the highest risk of redundancies such as hospitality, many workers might have to adopt by gaining new skills to find a job and London’s adult learning needs to be prepared to offer them learning opportunities that align with the rapidly changing needs of the local economy.

Enhancing skills development in London via adult learning has become even more important because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As documented in the preceding section, the economic crisis caused by the pandemic has led to a significant loss of jobs in London. Furthermore, hundreds of thousands of Londoners remain on government support schemes. Once national programmes such as the furlough scheme end, many more jobs will be at risk of redundancy. The crisis has affected some sectors particularly hard and, to some extent, has cast questions about the viability of their business models. Workers in these sectors require opportunities to transition into other sectors and new careers. Adult learning can help them to re-train or up-skill and can thus facilitate worker career mobility and resilience.

Risks of unemployment and displacement are concentrated on vulnerable groups of London’s population. As documented in the preceding section, sectors with primarily low-pay and low-skill jobs have experienced the highest economic contraction and face long-lasting revenue loss. Furthermore, the young were disproportionately affected by the furlough scheme, with a higher share of individuals aged 16-24 being put on furlough than from any other age group.

Despite its importance in the current context, adult learning participation has fallen in recent years. For most of the period from 1999 to 2015, participation in adult learning remained relatively stable, with some small increases or decreases between years. However, since 2015, participation in adult learning has significantly fallen from 41% to 33% in 2019 (Figure 2.13).11 In London, the decline in adult learning participation was even larger than for the rest of the UK, falling from 40% in 2015 to 28% in 2019.

Overcoming existing barriers to learning in adulthood remains critical for raising learning participation in London. Evidence from OECD countries suggests that those who would benefit the most from adult learning do not have access to or lack the means or motivation use it. On average, workers who are more exposed to risks of automation are less likely to participate in training (OECD, 2017[19]). Furthermore, those who could require upskilling or training opportunities because their skills do not allow them to find a job, tend to participate the least. Adult participation in education and training of the unemployed or economically inactive trails that of the employed in all OECD countries (OECD, 2017[19]). Raising awareness of the benefits of learning and training among workers remains a crucial issue. Data from PIAAC suggest that more than 80% of those who do not participate in adult learning lack the interest or motivation to do so (OECD, 2018[20]).

Across Greater London, various factors provide significant obstacles to participation in learning opportunities. Work-place responsibilities are the leading reason for non-participation in adult learning (Figure 2.14). More than a quarter of adults who did not do any training or learning state time their workload prevents them from doing so. A lack of available time is also a major constraint for around 12% who felt that family and care responsibilities were incompatible with learning offers. Another major barrier are financial constraints. For 17% the learning and training opportunities were too expensive or unaffordable.

Lessons from various OECD countries can provide useful examples to address the main barriers to adult learning in London. Among other things, raising awareness of the returns of skills through targeted information and guidance can boost potential learners’ motivation. Furthermore, offering flexible, shorter or modular types of learning programmers can mitigate time constraints. Providing targeted financial support can help alleviate the financial constraints, especially of the low skilled and economically disadvantaged. Finally, making sure that adult learning programmes offer higher labour market relevance should entice more adults into taking advantage of opportunities to up- or reskill (OECD, 2019[21]).

Following the first English devolution deal in 2014, the Greater London Authority (GLA) and London Councils proposed skills devolution to London. Their proposal consisted of a series of high-level outcomes sought for the London skills system by 2020 and suggestions on devolving skills funding, including the Adult Education Budget (AEB), London’s share of advanced learner loans and a guaranteed ‘proportionate return’ to London from the apprenticeship levy. It also foresaw the creation of a Skills Commissioner for London. In 2016, the UK government announced that it would delegate the Adult Education Budget to London from 2019-20, subject to readiness conditions.12 To date, there has been no further skills devolution to London. However, London has continued to develop and articulate its vision for adult learning and skills, and to use available resources to put this into place:

London has published a dedicated post-16 skills and adult education strategy. Skills for Londoners: A skills and adult education strategy for London sets out a vision for “A city for all Londoners - making sure Londoners, employers and businesses get the skills they need to succeed in a fair, inclusive society and thriving economy” (GLA, 2018[22]). Within the London skills strategy, the Mayor set out an ambition to seek significant devolution of skills funding for the capital – including careers information, advice and guidance, apprenticeships funding, and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund – in order to create “a single, integrated skills and adult education offer for London to deliver a more strategic, whole-system approach to post-16 skills.”

The Strategy identifies three priorities for action:

  • Firstly, to empower all Londoners to access the education and skills to participate in society and progress in education and work – through the creation of an all-age careers offer, targeted employment and skills provision for the most disadvantaged groups, and devolution of the AEB.

  • Secondly, to meet the needs of London’s economy and employers, now and in the future – through the Mayor’s Good Work Standard (GLA, 2021[23]) and Growth Hub13, alongside a focus on developing apprenticeships and London’s wider technical and vocational provision. A London Occupational Skills Board was also created to advise on aligning skills provision with skills needs in London.

  • Thirdly, to deliver a strategic city-wide technical skills and adult education offer – through the creation of a new Skills and Employment Knowledge Hub, to work with sub-regional partnerships and others to create a more collaborative and strategic skills system.

In 2019, the Mayor of London and London Councils published Skills for Londoners: A call for action, demanding a new devolution and funding deal to create an integrated skills and employment system. Call for Action, argued that the combination of London’s record of devolution to date, the Mayor’s mandate and labour market intelligence, and the boroughs’ reach into local communities mean that London government is better placed than the UK government to tailor solutions to local communities (GLA, 2019[24]). The plan also provides an overview of all the elements that an integrated local skills and employment system for London should contain (Figure 2.15).

To deliver its skills and adult learning strategy, the GLA has set up two advisory bodies. The Skills for Londoners Board of key stakeholders provides advice on skills and employment programmes, including the AEB. The Skills for Londoners Business Partnership aims to improve and better align provision to meet London’s skills need. Building on the devolved Adult Education Budget, which corresponded to GBP 318 million in 2019/20, the Mayor of London has outlined ambitious plans to tailor provision to London’s specific needs. The Skills for Londoners Framework, published in 2018 outlined eight priorities for the AEB:

  • Eligibility for full funding for people in low-paid work (less than GBP 17 004 a year).

  • English and maths skills: While more than 3m Londoners have poor literacy skills and more than 4.5m have poor numeracy skills, participation in English and maths courses in London fell by 19% between 2014/15 and 2017/18 (Figure 2.16). The GLA is pursuing research on participation, achievements rates, and best practices and has increased funding to better support Londoners.

  • English for speakers of other languages (ESOL): National funding cuts for ESOL since 2010 have hit London disproportionately as over half of the country’s ESOL provision is delivered in London. A review of the quality and delivery of ESOL provision in London has been undertaken to support future commissioning.

  • Basic digital skills: One in five Londoners lack basic digital skills. The introduction of a basic digital skills entitlement in August 2020 aims to address this.

  • Adult and community learning (ACL): Following a review of ACL funding, actions are being taken to ensure allocation better meets local needs and is more focused on priority groups.14

  • Support for disadvantaged learners: To direct financial support where it is most needed, London plans to move away from the national approach of providing a disadvantage uplift based on postcodes, and instead base it on learners’ personal characteristics. The GLA has committed to widen funding support and offers help with costs for accommodation, travel, course materials, equipment and childcare, substantial learning barriers for some adults.

  • Learners with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND): High quality adult learning and training can mitigate the large employment gap of disabled people in London. Building on a pan-London review of post-16 SEND provision, London is seeking to develop a more inclusive adult learning and skills system for SEND learners.15

  • Addressing London’s sectoral and occupational skills needs: The GLA plans to introduce outcome-related payments as part of London’s AEB to incentivise providers to be more responsive to the needs of businesses and employers (for example, see Box 2.5).

In responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the GLA have consulted training providers and other AEB stakeholders. As a result, it has added new AEB priorities. It expanded funding for unemployed Londoners and those on low wages, regardless of prior attainment, to help them access new employment opportunities. Additionally, it raised training providers flexibility in delivering and designing courses (GLA, 2020[25]).

London is currently developing an impact measurement framework for its adult education budget in order to meet both economic and social objectives. Evidence demonstrates that AEB provision can deliver a range of impacts, from employment, earnings and further learning, to wider social outcomes such as health, well-being and social integration (Figure 2.17). As part of wider efforts to ensure that AEB provision becomes more responsive to London’s needs, the GLA is developing a new framework for impact measures. This will require better collection and use of data on learner progression and destinations. To achieve this, the GLA is working to develop a London Learner Survey to capture wider impact of learning, which could include:

  • Progression in employment, including better wages, conditions or work quality, or reduced skills mismatch/underemployment,

  • Employability outcomes, including progression towards employment and into work,

  • Skills and qualifications,

  • Personal development and soft skills, including self-efficacy, financial capability, communication skills

  • Health and well-being, including mental health and access to health services,

  • Social and family relationships, including children’s readiness for school and educational attainment,

  • Citizenship and social integration, including volunteering, greater democratic participation, digital inclusion.

Once agreed, there will be a need to develop a robust baseline of these measures, before data can provide valid and meaningful evidence of the impact of AEB provision.

Preliminary evaluation results suggest that the devolution of adult learning funding to London has been successful. Early signs indicate that provision is becoming more ‘plan-led’, with a greater uptake of qualifications in skills shortage sectors (WECD, 2020[27]). Furthermore, growing evidence seems to point out several other benefits of employment and skills devolution. It appears to (i) ensure a better matching of skills supply to employer demand, boosting productivity, (ii) increase flexibility in tailoring employment and skills support to the distinct and changing needs of local communities and economies, (iii) raise accountability and local ownership, and (iv) improve educational and employment outcomes (IFF Research, 2020[28]).

Given the scale of the current economic crisis, the GLA is supporting a number of new policy priorities, which also aim to enhance the effectiveness of adult learning. The GLA has started the London Recovery Programme, consisting of multiple policy programmes centred on missions (GLA, 2020[29]). As part of the mission Helping Londoners into Good Work, the GLA aims to strengthen London’s adult learning system by better co-ordinating skills, careers and employment support. Furthermore, the GLA plans to establish sector specific London 'Academies' to support Londoners to gain relevant skills and move into good work in sectors that might be vital for a sustainable recovery including the digital economy, health, social care, the green economy, and creative and cultural industries. Finally, these initiatives also aim to foster a closer working relationship with employers to promote good work opportunities.

In designing effective learning programmes, decision makers need to take into account that the global pandemic has had a profound impact on training and adult learning. Until recently, most adult learning provision took place via face-to-face teaching and direct interaction between teachers and learners. In fact, building personal relationships between learners and their instructors is thought to provide positive re-enforcement effects to learners’ progress and persistence. COVID-19 has made such personal interaction and face-to-face delivery of learning programmes difficult or, to some extent, impossible. Consequently, adult learning providers in London needed to adapt their teaching methods quickly.

The pandemic has caused a breakthrough of online learning. Forcibly, adult learning providers had to shift, at least most, their courses online as physical meetings had to be abandoned during the strict lockdown period and remained more difficult to uphold even after the lockdown was eased. Online learning has the potential to broaden access to programmes at a low cost, as many components of online course work as well as online learning platforms are scalable. The increased use of digital learning solution may also foster deeper student learning (Box 2.6).

The move to online learning creates new significant challenges for adult learning in London. First, learners require adequate digital skills to benefit from online learning opportunities fully. Second, computer equipment and a decent learning environment are prerequisites but in many deprived households both might be hard to come by, which might further disadvantage already disadvantaged groups. Third, online learning can only be as good as teacher’s ability and experience in delivering online courses. Given the sudden surge in online solutions, teachers will need support and training on the most effective use of using digital tools for their courses. Finally, an important part of adult learning in London is currently work-based. This type of learning is hard to move online and faces significant impediments due to COVID-19 (see Box 2.7 for other challenges). Overall, the proliferation of online learning might create risks of disadvantaged and low-skilled individuals struggling even further to access learning and training.

The changing demand for specific jobs and the transition to online learning needs to be taken into account of evaluating adult learning providers. Adult education providers will have to adjust their programme curriculum to reflect the changing labour market and the impact of the crisis on available jobs. Additionally, providers have already, and will further need to, revise the delivery of their services and find new ways of assessing student engagement. Future accountability and funding frameworks for adult learning providers should reflect these changes.

Digital skills are now even more essential for both learning and succeeding in the labour market. Two thirds of businesses in the United Kingdom have unfilled digital skills vacancies, as 11.3 million adults lack basic digital skills needed for life and work (CBI, 2019[31]). In addition to current recruitment challenges, the prospect of future explosive growth in the demand for digital skills is another concern for employers as around 70% or more of SMEs report that their digital skills needs will become more severe over the next years. While the share of people with essential digital skills for work is higher in London (57%) than the national average (48% for the UK), more than 40% of the population still lacks the necessary skills to thrive in a digital work environment. Addressing this digital skills gap should be a key priority for adult learning providers in London, as it not only prepares workers for employment but also empowers them to learn independently online (Lloyds Bank, 2020[32]).16 In England, Local Digital Skills Partnerships funded by DCMS offer interesting examples on boosting the development of digital skills in line with local business needs (Box 2.8). Local Digital Skills Partnerships bring together cross-sector partners to tackle local skills gaps and build thriving regional economies. Across the OECD, cities are starting new initiatives to foster digital skills (see Box 2.9).

The importance of digital skills will rise further as the economy is in the process of a significant transition. As firms adjust to the future of work, embracing digitalisation and automation, being able to work and learn in a technology-rich environment becomes essential. COVID-19 has further accelerated this transition. Chapter 3 reviews this development in more detail and analyses the impact of the future of work for London’s labour market, its employers, and its employees.

Adult learning and skills policy in the UK is complex. In the UK, responsibility for adult learning and skills policy is devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In England, the adult learning system has seen some devolution, in recent years, to a number of areas including London. Overall, responsibility for the education system in England lies with the Department for Education whose remit includes early years, schools, higher and further education policy, apprenticeships and skills, and adult learning.17 However, other government departments also have relevant responsibilities, including but not limited to:

  • the Ministry of Housing, Community and Local Growth has responsibility for devolving powers and budgets to boost local growth in England; and in supporting communities with public services.

  • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is charged with delivering the Industrial Strategy and driving business growth and improved productivity.

  • The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is responsible for promoting digital skills and inclusion.

  • The Department for Work and Pensions is responsible for welfare and employment support.

Most of the funding and regulation of adult learning as well as career advice are also centralised in England. The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) supports the Department for Education nationally. It is responsible for funding and regulation of the education and training sector, as well as for the delivery of major projects and key services such as the National Careers Service, the National Apprenticeship Service and the Learning Records Service. The regulation of the system is also undertaken nationally by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (OFSTED) and the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (OFQUAL). The National Careers Service provides information and advice about learning, training, and work opportunities for young people and adults through a national phone line and website supplemented by face-to-face support for some adults through contracted area-based services. Jobseekers support is provided through a network of local Jobcentre Plus offices, part of the UK-wide Department for Work and Pensions.

At the sub-national and local level, a myriad of actors are involved in skills and adult learning policy in England. Sub-nationally, 38 local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) play a key role in determining local economic priorities and co-ordinating activity to drive economic growth and job creation, improve infrastructure and raise workforce skills within local areas. LEPs are business-led partnerships between local authorities and local private sector businesses, charged with developing local industrial strategies that set out a long-term economic vision for their area. At a local level, England’s 229 councils are responsible for delivering a range of public services, including schools and some post-16 provision. In addition to the England’s councils, local adult training providers are directly involved in offering and delivering adult training.

In London, the key actors of the adult learning system comprise the mayor of London, the London Economic Action Partnership, London’s boroughs, training providers, and employers. The Greater London Authority (GLA), created in 2000, consists of the Mayor of London and the London Assembly. The Mayor is responsible with setting the overall vision for London with scrutiny from the Assembly. In London, local government consists of 32 borough councils and the City of London; they provide many local services and often directly offer adult learning opportunities. The London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP) is the local enterprise partnership for London, bringing businesses together with the Mayor and London Councils to identify strategic actions to support and lead economic growth and job creation in the capital.

Over the past few decades, there has been a high level of volatility in the adult learning and skills landscape. This volatility included frequent machinery of government and ministerial changes, numerous strategies, white papers18 and Acts of Parliament, and significant changes to the system infrastructure and provider base.19 Each of these changes aimed to ensure that the UK has a highly skilled workforce, equipped to meet the challenges ahead (Productivity Insights Network, 2019[33]). However, the pace and scale of reform has created further challenges in having a coherent, well understood adult learning and skills system that effectively meets the needs of learners, businesses, and the wider economy.

Furthermore, different levels of devolved responsibility in each government department make the challenge of ensuring coherence at a local level even more pressing. For example, the Department for Work and Pensions is a UK wide department, while Department for Education has an England only-remit. In terms of local devolution, the DWPs’ Work and Health Programme, which helps disabled people into work, is devolved to London’s sub-regions, while London’s Mayor, along with a number of Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCA’s) across England, has taken responsibility for the Adult Education Budget (AEB) on a pan-London basis. This fragmented system makes it difficult for English cities such as London, to take a strategic approach to tailoring their adult learning, skills and employment services to local need.

The new national white paper, Skills for Jobs, could provide a significant increase in the importance of and the support for further education (including adult learning) in England and London. It sets out an ambitious reform agenda to strengthen further education (Box 2.10). In particular, it aims to put employers at the centre of the further education system, which could lead to more demand-based learning and improve the alignment of training with local skills needs. It also aims to boost the apprenticeship system and raise the quality of teaching. While the suggested reforms could benefit London’s adult learning systems, it remains unclear whether the Local Skills Improvement Plans, a cornerstone of the agenda, would fall under the responsibility of the GLA or would instead work in parallel to local Skills Advisory Panels.

The current adult learning system limits opportunities for local decision-makers in England, including the GLA and London’s boroughs, to influence the priorities, funding and delivery of national government departments and agencies, in relation to adult learning and skills. There is no requirement for national organisations to discuss with councils how services will work in local areas, or how they will reflect local economic and social priorities. Different national departments and agencies often have different objectives, priorities, eligibility, criteria, accountabilities and ways of working that make collaboration – both nationally and locally – challenging. As a result, investment can often fail to meet local need, address local economic and social challenges, or make a decisive impact on local priorities. To address this, many councils and combined authorities have developed employment and skills programmes of their own (see Box 2.11).

Although discussions around adult learning and skills are often framed around the concept of a ‘system’, England has moved towards a market-model of adult learning and skills. In this model, providers compete for tenders to deliver training. Successive governments have pursued a market-based model in the belief that it reduces costs, increases choice and responsiveness to the labour market and optimises quality. Increasingly however, the issue of whether adult learning and skills should be a competitive market or a collaborative system is critical to optimising provision and balancing what employers want with what learners choose and what the government is seeking to achieve.

As part of its market-based model, a large and diverse network of actors is involved in delivering adult learning in London but collaboration among providers is limited. Providers include higher education institutions, general and specialist further education colleges, independent training providers (ITPs), local authorities and charitable organisations. As of 2018/19, learners in further education, which includes any study after secondary education that is not part of higher education, mainly use four different type of providers (Figure 2.19). Roughly equal shares of learners use programmes of further education colleges (29%) or local authorities or other publicly funded providers such as higher education institutes (28%). Another 23% are associated with special colleges and the remaining 20% with private sector providers. A common criticism of the system and its large number of providers is a lack of collaboration between providers. In a number of localities, where the AEB has been devolved, local commissioners are seeking to establish a more collaborative approach (see Box 2.12).20

In light of the fragmentation of the adult learning system, the national membership body for local authorities has called for the creation of a more joined up, local system. They propose an integrated and devolved employment and skills service. Their proposal, Work Local21, lays out plans for combined authorities and groups of councils, working in partnership with local and national partners, to have the powers and funding to plan, commission and have oversight of a joined-up service bringing together advice and guidance, employment, skills, apprenticeships and business support for individuals and employers.22

In recent years, England has seen significant reductions in budgets for adult learning and skills. Total spending on classroom-based adult education (excluding apprenticeships) has fallen by nearly two-thirds since 2003-04 and by 47% in the decade between 2009/20 and 2018/19 (Figure 2.20). Cuts were mainly driven by reduced learner numbers, from 4.4 million in 2004/05 to 1.5 million in 2017/18, particularly on lower level courses (IFS, 2019[36]). Over this period, spending has increasingly focused on apprenticeships. In 2003-04, 21% of the GBP 5.3 billion spent on adults was for apprenticeships or work-based training; by 2018-19, this proportion had increased to 54% of the total spending on adult education and skills in England, a real terms increase in apprenticeship spending of 36% in the decade between 2009-10 and 2018-19 (IFS, 2019[36]).

As well as having a predominantly nationally led structure, funding for adult learning and skills is also highly centralised. An increasing proportion is also directed by the individual decisions of employers and individuals through the apprenticeship levy and advanced learner loans, which give individuals access to financial support for tuition costs (Figure 2.21). Although there has been some devolution of adult learning funds in a number of areas in recent years, in this context the opportunities for cities and regions to strategically direct funding to address local need remains limited. The majority of public funding for adult (19+) further education and learning in England is provided by the Education and Skills Funding Agency, through the Adult Education Budget (AEB)23, which aims to “engage adults and provide the skills and learning they need to progress into, or within, work or equip them for an apprenticeship or other learning.” The AEB enables providers to deliver flexible tailored programmes of learning, which may or may not require a qualification, to help learners engage in learning, build confidence, and/or enhance their wellbeing.

The AEB supports statutory entitlements to full funding but only certain types of learners benefit, which has led to falling learner numbers (see Box 2.14). Beyond these entitlements, learner eligibility depends on personal circumstances, with funding generally focused on lower skill levels, younger adults, low earners and the unemployed. Adults who are eligible for funding either have all their course fees paid or the ESFA pays some of the fees and the learner or provider are responsible for paying the remainder.24 Learners who are not eligible for AEB funding may be able to fund their studies through an Advanced Learner Loan, available for learners aged 19 and over studying at levels 3-6 (see Box 2.14 for a description of levels) at approved colleges or training providers. Following the introduction of loans in 2013/14, the number of adults studying at levels 3 and 4 has fallen steadily, while in 2013-18, 58% of loans funding – totalling almost GBP 1 billion – went unspent. Finally, the European Social Fund Agency (ESFA) was expected to support projects across the UK to the value of GBP 864 million until 2023 for vocational training for adults, especially in less economically developed regions, and for adult learners not supported by other funding streams.25

Recent devolution has transferred funding to mayoral combined authorities (MCAs) including the Greater London Authority but the resources at the GLA’s disposal remain limited. From 2019/20, control of around half of the AEB transferred to six mayoral combined authorities to encourage better alignment between local economic needs and adult skills provision. Thus, the GLA is now responsible for commissioning and funding AEB provision for learners in London. In 2019/20, London received GBP 306m of AEB funding. Additionally, the Mayor of London, advised by the London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP), is responsible for commissioning European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), including GBP 422m of ESF funds, to support 399,000 disadvantaged Londoners. Given the pressing need for adult learning and designing training with the demand of London’s labour market, the Mayor of London has called for its share of the UKSPF to be devolved in full, enabling London to strategically coordinate funding to support its most disadvantaged residents and to tackle poverty, exclusion, and inequality. The Mayor has also called for the level of funding to be at least that of current ESIF levels, and for funds to be allocated to areas according to a fair funding formula relating to the needs of the population.26

As indicated by preliminary evidence on London’s adult learning system, devolution can provide new opportunities in improving the system.27 It can increased efficiency by better aligning skills provision to local needs, it can react quickly to emerging crisis, and it can improve outcomes of adult learning provision in London. However, devolution of adult learning also creates a number of new challenges.

Devolution in itself is not a panacea for all existing problems of the adult learning system. The pace of economic and technological change means that the skills that London’s businesses and individuals need are also rapidly changing. Other uncertainties, such as the impact of COVID-19 and the future of the UK’s trading relationship with the EU further heighten the need to ensure that cities such as London are able to develop a culture of lifelong learning and create a responsive skills system to ensure their ongoing success and prosperity. In doing so, however London faces a number of challenges.

Adult learning in London is under-funded. In line with the wider national picture of reduced funding across the adult education system, London’s funding for adult learning has significantly decreased over the last decade. The reduced funding has led to fewer opportunities for learning, training and skills development; in 2010-16 the number of publicly funded adult learners in London fell by 30%.28 Total funding risks declining further unless the UK Shared Prosperity Fund replaces the GBP 70m of yearly ESF funding spent on supporting disadvantaged Londoners.

Persistent inequalities in access to learning opportunities exist. Those who could benefit most from opportunities to learn and train as adults, often have least opportunity to do so (Figure 2.22). Younger adults, those who already have higher-level qualifications and those in higher socio-economic classifications are most likely participate in learning and training. In contrast, participation declines with age and distance from the labour market and is lowest for those with fewer or no formal qualifications.

The longstanding centralisation of learning and skills policy in England also creates challenges in terms of administrative costs and London’s capacity to manage a devolved system. One consequence of centralisation of learning and skills policy in England is that many cities do not have sufficient expertise and capacity to design and deliver effective services. While this is less of a concern in London with its more established record and greater levels of expertise and capacity, the GLA would require significant resources to take on further devolution. Operating a fully devolved system would necessitate additional investment in local expertise and capacity. Furthermore, devolution from a centralised system also risks increasing the cost of administration as economies of scale are lost, and functions such as policy development, commissioning and monitoring are carried out separately in different geographical areas. However, in the case of London, the size and scale of the region might be sufficient to yield economies of scale and better integration of services within London could instead reduce costs and create economies of scope. Moreover, if skills devolution contributed to more effective service delivery and better targeted provision, this could outweigh any increase in administration costs.

The fragmentation of different funding sources for adult learning and skills make it difficult for London’s government to develop long-term planning to meet the skills needs of the city. While some sources of funding are devolved, other are not. Devolved AEB funds are insufficient and too restricted to fully meet London’s skills needs. Wider sources of funding, increasingly available through the levy and loans, and funding streams that are directed at a national level provide limited opportunities for London to strategically direct funding to address local needs.

In addition to a fragmentation of adult funding, there is also a considerable disconnect with funding for young people, placing limits on London’s ability to create a coherent post-16 skills system. At present, the Department for Education oversees 16-18 provision nationally with funding rules set by the Education and Skills Funding Agency. Traineeships are one such example of this disconnect. They are ESFA-funded skills development programmes for young people aged 16-24 that include a work placement and typically last up to 6 months. They aim to help young people with limited experience of the labour market to find work or an apprenticeship. Although Traineeships for 19-24-year olds are part of the AEB, this part of the budget is not devolved to local areas. As such, the GLA is unable to create a clear and coherent offer to young people and businesses in their local areas and to develop accessible pathways for trainees to progress into apprenticeships, employment or further learning.

The move towards a competitive and segmented market-based approach to adult learning has exacerbated fragmentation of the system, making it hard to navigate. While many ongoing policy reforms have been positive, too often they have been developed and commissioned in isolation, with insufficient regard to how they come together within an overall learning and skills strategy and aside from any vision of an integrated ecosystem of providers and wider services. As a result, learners and employers can find it difficult to navigate the system and identify the right opportunities for them, while local government and employer intermediaries are hampered in their efforts to create an overarching infrastructure for employer engagement that enables them to offer holistic business support. A lack of local strategic influence over funding and policy for careers and employment services adds to this disjoint and limits London’s ability to offer an integrated employment and skills service, which can not only signpost and support people into locally valuable learning and training, but also equips them to find jobs, progress at work and build careers (see Box 2.15 for more information on career advice and employment support).

London’s proposal for a devolution and funding deal with the UK government addresses many of the challenges of the adult learning system in London. At its core, it seeks to develop a properly funded and integrated employment and skills system focused on the needs of Londoners and London businesses29. However, it leaves room for improvement in multiple areas. While Call for Action has a strong focus on developing the skills of Londoners to meet the needs of London businesses, there is less of an emphasis on the wider efforts required to stimulate economic growth, increase productivity, support strategic business development, and improve skills utilisation. London’s Local Industrial Strategy30 could be integrated into its skills strategy to avoid reflecting the silos that exist within national policy making. Furthermore, an integrated approach will also be essential if London is not to only to meet current skills needs but also to raise employer demand for skills. As such, London could seek to develop a coherent and integrated offer of strategic business support, in which skills development and utilisation are a key pillar. Given the significant impact of COVID -19 on London’s businesses – particularly in sectors such as leisure, tourism, hospitality and retail, and those dependent on the footfall of London-based office workers – the need for effective and holistic support is critical if businesses are to survive and successfully adapt.

The current offer of careers advice, overseen nationally and delivered by a range of providers, creates unnecessary duplication and waste. All Londoners require a coherent offer of information and support if they are to navigate this significant period of economic change successfully. The predominant focus of services on young people and unemployed adults, leaves working adults under-served. Additionally, information and advice on careers needs to be tailored to the needs of Londoners and the London labour market. The devolution of careers funding to create an all-age pan-London service, “Made in London”, could be a step towards addressing this.

The sectoral nature of the current recession means that many Londoners will need to retrain and change careers in the coming months and years. To do so, they are likely to need more targeted in-depth support. An integrated careers service would need to include more intensive support from a career adviser/work coach, access to training tailored to specific career pathways and jobs, financial assistance with the costs of retraining, and work placements/employer engagement activity.

The COVID-19 pandemic might create new impetus for London’s adult learning system. More adults are recognising the need to learn and train by taking advantage of online delivery and the use of technology to do so. Businesses are undergoing significant change and, although many face unprecedented challenges that limit their resources to invest in training, a lot of businesses have recognised the need to upskill and develop their staff to respond to their changing context. While the immediate economic challenge can seem most pressing, London faces a wide range of longstanding challenges in relation to poverty and inequality, community cohesion, health and well-being – all of which can be positively impacted by a well-designed and properly funded adult learning and skills system. The forthcoming Devolution White Paper from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and the Further Education White Paper from the Department for Education provide a unique opportunity to align these two agendas and to take a strategic approach to devolution of adult learning and skills.


[31] CBI (2019), Delivering Skills for the New Economy, https://www.cbi.org.uk/articles/delivering-skills-for-the-new-economy/.

[17] Centre for Cities (2020), High streets recovery tracker - How are cities and large towns recovering from Coronavirus?, https://www.centreforcities.org/data/high-streets-recovery-tracker/.

[13] Centre for Cities (2020), How will Coronavirus affect jobs in different parts of the country ?, https://www.centreforcities.org/blog/how-will-coronavirus-affect-jobs-in-different-parts-of-the-country/.

[26] Department for Education (2019), FE English and Maths teaching, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/765600/English_maths_geography_tool_achievements_participation_201415_to_201718.xlsx.

[35] Department for Education (2019), FE learners by providers, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/848371/Feandskills-learners-by-provider-local-authority-learner-characteristics-1819_Final_v0.1.xlsx.

[38] Department for Education (2019), Review of Post-18 Education and Funding, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/805127/Review_of_post_18_education_and_funding.pdf.

[34] DfE (2021), Skills for Jobs: Lifelong Learning for Opportunity and Growth, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/skills-for-jobs-lifelong-learning-for-opportunity-and-growth.

[9] Dingel, J. and B. Neiman (March 2020), How Many Jobs Can be Done at Home?, https://bfi.uchicago.edu/working-paper/how-many-jobs-can-be-done-at-home/.

[15] Espinoza, R. and L. Reznikova (2020), “Who can log in? The importance of skills for the feasibility of teleworking arrangements across OECD countries”, OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, No. 242, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/3f115a10-en.

[37] Foster, D. (2019), House of Commons Library, https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7708.

[6] GLA (2021), Labour market update for London - February 2021, https://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/gla-economics-covid-19-labour-market-analysis.

[23] GLA (2021), The Good Work Standard (GWS), https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/business-and-economy/supporting-business/what-mayors-good-work-standard.

[29] GLA (2020), London Recovery Programme - Overview Paper, https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/recovery_programme_overview_-_151020.pdf.

[25] GLA (2020), Skills for Londoners Framework Consultation 2021/22, https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/md2694_appendix_a.pdf.

[24] GLA (2019), Skills for Londoners: A call for action, https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/call_for_action_final_13.09.19_.pdf.

[22] GLA (2018), Skills for Londoners, https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/sfl_strategy_final_june_20186.pdf.

[5] GLA Economics (2020), COVID-19: Labour Market Round-Up, August 2020, https://airdrive-secure.s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/london/dataset/gla-economics-covid-19-labour-market-analysis/2020-08-03T15%3A49%3A25/Covid-19%20LM%20RoundUp%20August.pdf?X-Amz-Algorithm=AWS4-HMAC-SHA256&X-Amz-Credential=AKIAJJDIMAIVZJDICKHA%2F20200828%.

[1] GLA Economics (2020), Macroeconomic scenarios for London’s economy post COVID-19, https://airdrive-secure.s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/london/dataset/macroeconomic-scenarios-for-london-s-economy-post-covid-19/2020-09-15T19%3A35%3A28/Macro%20scenarios%20for%20London%20-%20Approach%20and%20long-term%20projections%20September%202020.pdf?X-A.

[11] Gottlieb, C., J. Grobovsek and M. Poschke (n.d.), “Working from home across countries”, Covid Economics: Vetted and Real-Time Papers, Vol. 8, https://cepr.org/content/covid-economics-vetted-and-real-time-papers-0.

[18] Guardian (5 October 202), Guardian.co.uk, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/oct/05/covid-19-has-changed-working-patterns-for-good-uk-survey-finds.

[28] IFF Research (2020), Evaluation of the first year of devolved Adult Education Budget in London, https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/devolved_aeb_evaluation_report_gla_iff_controlled_v02.00_clean.pdf.

[36] IFS (2019), 2019 annual report on education spending in England, https://www.ifs.org.uk/uploads/R162-Education-spending-in-England-2019.pdf.

[3] Koop, G. et al. (2019), “Regional output growth in the United Kingdom: More timely and higher frequency estimates from 1970”, Journal of Applied Econometrics, Vol. 35/2, pp. 176-197, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jae.2748.

[39] Learning and Work Institute (2019), Adult Participation in Learning Survey, https://learningandwork.org.uk/what-we-do/lifelong-learning/adult-participation-in-learning-survey/.

[32] Lloyds Bank (2020), Lloyds Bank UK Consumer Digital Index 2020, https://doi.org/Lloyds Bank.

[2] Ministry of Housing, C. (2019), English indices of deprivation 2019, https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/english-indices-of-deprivation-2019.

[30] OECD (2020), Education responses to covid-19: Embracing digital learning and online collaboration, http://www.oecd.org/coronavirus/policy-responses/education-responses-to-covid-19-embracing-digital-learning-and-online-collaboration-d75eb0e8/.

[4] OECD (2020), The territorial impact of COVID-19: Managing the crisis across levels of government, http://www.oecd.org/coronavirus/policy-responses/the-territorial-impact-of-covid-19-managing-the-crisis-across-levels-of-government-d3e314e1/.

[7] OECD (2020), Tourism Policy Responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19), http://www.oecd.org/coronavirus/policy-responses/tourism-policy-responses-to-the-coronavirus-covid-19-6466aa20/.

[21] OECD (2019), OECD Skills Outlook 2019 : Thriving in a Digital World, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/df80bc12-en.

[20] OECD (2018), Good Jobs for All in a Changing World of Work: The OECD Jobs Strategy, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264308817-en.

[19] OECD (2017), OECD Skills Outlook 2017: Skills and Global Value Chains, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264273351-en.

[12] OFCE (2020), “L’impact économique de la pandémie de COVID-19 et des mesures de confinement en France”, OFCE Policy Note, Vol. 66, pp. 1-22, https://www.ofce.sciences-po.fr/pdf/pbrief/2020/OFCEpbrief66.pdf.

[40] ONS (2020), Coronavirus and homeworking in the UK: April 2020, https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/bulletins/coronavirusandhomeworkingintheuk/april2020.

[16] ONS (2020), Retail Sales Index, http://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/retailindustry.

[8] ONS (2020), Tourism statistics, http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/guide-method/method-quality/specific/travel-and-transport-methodology/international-passenger-survey/index.html.

[14] Özgüzel, C. et al. (2020), Tackling coronavirus (COVID-19) - OECD Policy responses: Capacity for remote working can affect lockdown costs differently across places, https://read.oecd-ilibrary.org/view/?ref=134_134296-u9iq2m67ag&title=Capacity-for-remote-working-can-affect-lockdown-costs-differently-across-places.

[33] Productivity Insights Network (2019), Productivity Policy Review, https://productivityinsightsnetwork.co.uk/app/uploads/2019/01/Productivity-Policy-Review.pdf.

[10] Saltiel, F. (2020), “Home working in developing countries”, Covid Economics: Vetted and Real-Time Papers, Vol. 6, https://cepr.org/sites/default/files/news/CovidEconomics6.pdf.

[27] WECD (2020), AEB PROCESS EVALUATION, https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/aeb_process_evaluation_report_final_0.pdf.


← 1. See Box 2.1 for an overview of London’s geography and local governance structure.

← 2. Data are based on the ONS population estimates for 2019 and the ONS subnational population projections for 2018.

← 3. The statistics are for Greater London and are based on the OECD Regional Database.

← 4. The sample of comparators consists of other large OECD metropolitan areas that are either capitals or economic centres with a similar economic structure, and which have available data.

← 5. The Index of Multiple Deprivation consists of seven distinct aspects of deprivation. See more detail: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/english-indices-of-deprivation-2019.

← 6. The UK Government’s response to COVID-19 expanded the eligibility for Jobseeker’s allowances and Universal Credit for individuals “searching for work”. People in work but on low incomes became eligible for these benefits.

← 7. Data and analysis on online vacancies are from the indeed hiring lab: https://www.hiringlab.org/uk/blog/2020/09/22/uk-job-postings-through-18th-sept/

← 8. This estimate corresponds closely to the actually documented share of people that worked remotely, at least part of the time, in London according to the ONS (ONS, 2020[40]).

← 9. At its peak, almost a third (30%) ff the 4.3 million employees in London eligible for furlough used the scheme.

← 10. As of June 2020.

← 11. Each year, survey respondents are provided with the following definition of learning and asked when they last took part in learning: ‘Learning can mean practicing, studying or reading about something. It can also mean being taught, instructed or coached. This is so you can develop skills, knowledge, abilities or understanding of something. Learning can also be called education or training. You can do it regularly (each day or month) or you can do it for a short period of time. It can be full time, or part time, done at home, at work, or in another place like a college. Learning does not have to lead to a qualification. We are interested in any learning you have done, whether or not it was finished.’

← 12. The following year, the government also published a memorandum of understanding, stating that “the government will continue to work with the GLA and London Councils so that employers can take advantage of the opportunities offered by the apprenticeship levy and will explore options for greater local influence over careers services, with a view to better aligning skills provision and careers services with local needs and priorities: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/597291/London-Devolution-MoU.pdf

← 13. https://www.growthhub.london/

← 14. https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/london_adult_community_learning_review_report.pdf

← 15. As part of this, from 2020-21, London’s AEB can now be used to fully fund teaching and learning support staff to deliver improved specialist provision. It can also be used to fully fund learners whose first language is British Sign Language (BSL).

← 16. Essential digital skills as defined by (Lloyds Bank, 2020[32]) comprise 17 different digital tasks, covering areas such as communicating, transacting, problem solving, handling information and content, and being safe and legal online/

← 17. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-education

← 18. White papers are policy documents produced by the Government that set out their proposals for future legislation.

← 19. https://www.cityandguilds.com/-/media/cityandguilds-site/documents/news/2014/oct-14/cgskillsreport2014-pdf.ashx?la=en&hash=FADB400B2354F7C59D66BF453DBEF415D67D2DBB

← 20. https://www.policyconnect.org.uk/sc/sites/site_sc/files/news/528/fieldnewsdownloads/englandsskillspuzzle-piecingtogetherfurthereducationtrainingandemployment.pdf

← 21. https://www.local.gov.uk/topics/employment-and-skills/work-local

← 22. Its guiding principles call for (i) a 'one stop' service, rooted in place, flexible to local needs, (ii) clear and responsive local leadership, (iii) driven by local opportunities and needs, (iv) a common national framework for devolution, (v) improved offer for individuals and employers, (vi) governance by local Labour Market Agreements.

← 23. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/909529/AEB_2020_to_2021_funding_rules_V3.pdf

← 24. From 2016/17 to 2019/20, the AEB was protected in cash terms at GBP 1.5 billion, although inflation has led to a real term cut over the period.

← 25. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/skills-funding-agency-annual-report-and-accounts-2015-to-2016

← 26. https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/call_for_action_.pdf

← 27. See previous section for the preliminary assessment of adult learning delivery since devolution.

← 28. https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/skills-strategy-evidence-base.pdf

← 29. https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/call_for_action_.pdf

← 30. https://www.london.gov.uk/business-and-economy-publications/evidence-base-londons-local-industrial-strategy-final-report

Metadata, Legal and Rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2021

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at http://www.oecd.org/termsandconditions.