London accounts for only 12.5 per cent of the UK population, yet it generates 22 per cent of UK GDP.

It is Europe’s fastest-growing technology cluster and with more than a third of global foreign exchange taking place every day in the city, there is no denying London’s importance as a global economic powerhouse.

However a quick glance at the number of apprenticeships starts in London, and a different picture starts to emerge.

Businesses in the capital regularly create over 40,000 apprenticeship starts each year and while this number is not immediately cause for concern, government statistics show that London trails other English cities in terms of the number of opportunities available for young people.

There is great work being done by the National Apprenticeship Service, colleges and independent training providers in raising the profile of apprenticeships in London, but I am sure you will agree that more needs to be done.

This is why we are asking all candidates standing for the Mayor and London Assembly elections to sign the WorldSkills UK Pledge for apprenticeships

We are asking all candidates standing for the Mayor and London Assembly elections to sign the WorldSkills UK Pledge for apprenticeships.

Signatories will commit to promoting apprenticeships to young people from all backgrounds, showing that this training is a viable and successful route into employment.

We are supporting this activity by working with our skills champions, who are past competitors from both our national and international competitions.

Our aim is that they will visit schools and colleges throughout the UK to share their experiences and give an insight into their jobs.

Research shows that peer to peer careers advice is among the most effective and our champions are passionate about ensuring the opportunities they had are available for all young people.

Readers of FE Week will remember Londoner Danny Hoang’s success at EuroSkills Lille 2014 and WorldSkills São Paulo 2015.

Catching up with Danny a few weeks ago, I was struck when he told me that he believed there are many ways to succeed and how important it is that young people are well informed on all training opportunities that exist.

He wants all young people to have the same chances he had. That is why Danny is supporting our pledge.

We need to show young people and their parents the benefits that a high quality apprenticeship can offer an individual but we also need to ensure employers are engaged as well.

As former deputy Director-General of the CBI, that is why I am pleased to see the shift in balance of apprenticeship delivery placing employers at the heart of the reform.

I believe this will have a positive impact on numbers, not just in London but throughout the UK.

There has been a huge amount of focus on the apprenticeship levy, but it is important not to ignore the other elements, most notably the focus on quality and the development of new standards.

Working with our partners and government, we will be highlighting how the standards set for our competitions, based on the data from WorldSkills International, can be used to help inform the new apprenticeship frameworks.

Research shows that over 95 per cent of our competitors believed that taking part in competitions had improved their technical and employability skills, while over 80 per cent felt competing had increased their confidence, team working, ability to work under pressure and time management.

It is these employability skills that employers are crying out for and this shows how skills competitions help employers equip their apprentices with the right skills to help UK businesses compete better globally.

On May 5, elections will also take place in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and the signatures of these candidates are also vitally important to ensure the needs of young people remain at the top of the agenda across the UK.

This is the only way to ensure our economy will remain competitive now and in the future.

If you would like to send a powerful message that skills and young people’s opportunities matter, please sign the Pledge, it’s really easy.

Visit #skillswork for more information.