ESF – London Learning Programme


New skills programme to benefit employers and employees

West London Local Chambers has teamed up with the New London Educational Trust (NLET) to launch a new workforce development programme.

Called London Learning, the programme aims to boost the skills of employees working in three key sectors: retail, health and social care, and hospitality and catering. The idea is to help employees in seven west London boroughs (Barnet, Brent, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Ealing and Hammersmith) get bite-size qualifications, approved by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), that enable them to gain the confidence, skills and knowledge to progress their careers. In turn, this will help employers get the skills they need to boost their productivity and remain competitive.

Initially the project, which is part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF), will run until 2023 but there may be scope to extend it further. The target is to help at least 800 employees over the next two years.

David McLoughlin, who is leading the project on behalf of NLET, says: “It has never been more important to have the necessary skills to progress careers and help businesses as they recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Working with West London Local Chambers, we’ve been able to identify businesses and employees that require additional skills.

“Employees will get one-to-one, tailored support and training can take place via our careers hub in Hounslow or online. The key benefit of this project is its flexibility. The training is free and is specifically designed around the needs of the employees and businesses that get involved.

“If you’re a chef, for example, you might need additional training in food hygiene. If you’re starting your career in retail, you might require extra skills in customer service. Some of the qualifications are applicable to workers in all industries. We have courses in mental health awareness, emergency first aid and – particularly relevant at the moment – personal protective equipment (PPE) awareness.

“Essentially, the project provides participants with a menu of interventions that bring together formal qualifications, in-work skills, personal development and pastoral support. Interventions are available singularly or in any combination and revolve around a series of employer-led activities designed to progressively develop the skills and in-work capabilities demanded by participating employers and the sectors in which they are employed. These sector-based camps bring participants together to jointly discuss and work on solutions to real-world business scenarios presented by participating employers.”

The project has five key aims which are designed to help low-skilled, disadvantaged employees – particularly disabled employees, BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) employees, older employees, female employees and employees living in a single adult household with dependent children – to progress within their employment. These aims can be seen in the panel box below.


London Learning: key aims

  1. To safeguard the employed status of disadvantaged employed people through the acquisition of basic skills.
  2. To underpin the capacity for growth among SMEs and micro-businesses through developmental support provided to their disadvantaged employees.
  3. To raise the skills level of disadvantaged employees so they may exploit in-work progression opportunities.
  4. To support the growth of participating SMEs and micro-businesses by improving the productivity of disadvantaged employees through raising skills levels up to level three.
  5. To provide disadvantaged employees with updated skills, knowledge and confidence to plan sustainable employment pathways.