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Education needs business backing, says London Mayor Boris Johnson

Education needs business backing, says London Mayor Boris Johnson

The education sector needs more support from businesses through fresh investment, says Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

The Mayor of London has encouraged businesses to commit to offering more and better support to the education sector.


In a speech to education professionals and senior executives at a City Hall Summit earlier this week, Boris Johnson explained that employers could play an important part in solving the skills shortage which will otherwise hold so many of them back.

All they need to do is “step up” and commit more money to supporting education systems both in the UK and worldwide.

“As a society, we are failing to prepare kids for the reality of the jobs market,” Mr Johnson said. “The educational system is making progress, but I urge all businesses to go further.”

He was speaking in support of a campaign called Business Backs Education, which was launched in March to urge big businesses to devote 20 per cent of their total corporate social responsibility (CSR) budget to education initiatives. It’s jointly led by the Varkey Gems Foundation, Dubai Cares and UNESCO.

The same event saw the launch of new research indicating that just nine per cent of the total CSR budget among UK-based Fortune 500 companies is actually spent on education. That means that if they were to meet the target set by Business Backs Education, spending would more than double to some $650 million (£407 million).


Irina Bokova, UNESCO director-general, reiterated the importance of private sector involvement for both the labour market and educational outcomes.

“The private sector is not simply a donor – it is a partner, and a key one that can play an important role across a range of areas, from policy formulation and advocacy to anticipating what skills are needed to drive growth in today’s economies,” she said.

It isn’t the first or only time that employers have been encouraged to play a bigger role in education. In July, figures from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) showed that nearly 60 per cent of companies surveyed were not confident they would have enough highly skilled staff to meet their needs in the future.

Eight out of ten said they had developed some form of link with at least one school or college, indicating that they are aware of the difference they can make. But new initiatives will continue to promote closer partnerships.

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