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The Evening Standard and Independent

Skill Up Set Up


Skill Up Step Up is a joint Evening Standard and Independent campaign that was launched in December 2021 to tackle the skills mismatch between the demands of employers and the skills offered by disadvantaged young job-seekers in London – thereby transforming the lives of hard to reach young Londoners by telling their stories.

What is novel about the campaign is that it addresses two seemingly contradictory problems – stubbornly high London youth unemployment together with high jobs vacancies countrywide. It pointed to a skills mismatch which the titles addressed by offering jobless youth free employability and skills training to jump-start their lives and careers – and at the same time we called on employers to “step up” and pledge jobs to these unskilled youths, thereby helping their business and the wider economy to thrive.

Eight months into a two-year campaign and some of the successes so far include:

  • Securing £1 million backing from Barclays;
  • Funding five outstanding youth charities to run training sessions to help more than 1,200 unemployed young Londoners to skill up through courses lasting three to six months and to get them into employment;
  • Receiving cross-party backing from senior MPs and endorsements from the Mayor of London, Nadhim Zahawi (then Education Secretary), David Lammy and a host of business chiefs, including chef Marcus Wareing, Dragon’s Den’s Steven Bartlett, Professor Green, William Adoasi, Reggie Nelson and Karen Brady.

The campaign has secured over 350 pledges of jobs or apprenticeships from dozens of companies – including Nandos, Ottolenghi, Compass Group and PPHE Hotel Group – and more than 50 young people trained with the funding have started jobs/apprenticeships – with dozens more scheduled to start as soon as their training is complete.