Olympic Legacy Budget helps to fund £2.3m London Professional Apprenticeship programme

A new apprenticeships programme in London’s professional services sector is to receive a total of GBP2.3m in funding, comprised of GBP1.4m from the Olympic Legacy Budget and GBP900,000 from professional services firm¬†PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC), the UK government’s Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) announced on Tuesday.

Designed to attract outstanding young Londoners into professional services roles, the London Professional Apprenticeship (LPA) programme will provide 250 apprenticeships. The funding from the Olympic Legacy Budget will be used for the design, set up and early implementation of the LPA scheme to the end of this financial year, while the contribution from PwC will fund ongoing costs that will cover training and networking events, mentoring and a ‘graduation’ ceremony.

BIS said the LPA programme will focus on the six Olympic growth boroughs, which are: Barking and Dagenham, Greenwich, Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest. An apprentice matching service will be provided to small businesses that join the LPA programme, making it easier for them to access talent. The project will also enable apprentices to learn together and develop networks that will benefit them throughout their career.

An apprentice recruitment drive will commence at the beginning of 2014 and businesses will be encouraged to employ apprentices through the LPA. The programme will focus on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as only 5% of SMEs in London currently employ an apprentice.

According to BIS, the professional and business services (PBS) sector is forecast to create a net increase of over 600,000 jobs by 2020. The LPA programme has been tailored to meet the needs of London’s employers and young people; therefore it includes training modules that are relevant to the capital, such as exporting, entrepreneurship and London’s role in the UK and global economy. However the model has been designed to be sustainable and BIS said it could be applied to other cities or regions.

Divisional Apprenticeships Director National Apprenticeship Service, Vic Grimes, commented: “The London Professional Apprenticeship programme is an excellent opportunity offering talented young people in London a career path into the professional business service sector and for businesses, particularly SMEs, to grow their future workforce. The National Apprenticeship Service is impressed by PwC’s ambitious targets and we look forward to supporting them through our Apprenticeship services.”

Foreign visits to UK down in August despite Olympics

The number of visits to the UK by overseas residents was 5% lower in August, despite London hosting this year’s Olympic Games, figures showed today.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that there were around 3.0 million visits to the UK in August, down 5% compared to the same month in 2011.

Overall, however, these foreign visitors spent more money than their counterparts last year.

The amount of money spent was 9% higher than in the same period a year ago, at nearly GBP2.4bn. This includes any money spent on the purchase of Olympics tickets.

Visitors to the Games spent almost twice as much money, shelling out GBP1,290 per person on average, against GBP650 spent by other overseas visitors.

The majority of visits for the Olympic Games from overseas were made by European residents, while an equal proportion came from North America and other countries around the world.

Looking specifically at all visits made to the UK this summer for the sporting spectacle, there were an estimated 590,000 completed visits to the UK by overseas residents in July and August that were either specifically for the 2012 Olympics or Paralympics – by those participating, working or watching the Games – or primarily for another reason but involving attendance at a ticketed event.

The ONS noted that the decrease in total visit numbers in August followed similar falls in June and July, when visits to the UK were around 7% lower than in 2011 and spending on those visits was in line with the previous year. Across the whole of the year to date, the number of visits from overseas residents is unchanged in percentage terms from 2011, while spending is 3% higher.

UK residents made slightly fewer trips abroad in August 2012 compared to a year earlier, with visits abroad by Britons down 1% to a total of 7.3 million. Expenditure on these visits rose 6% from 2011, amounting to more than GBP4.5bn.