Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has launched a new scheme designed to increase the numbers of woman and ethnic minority taxi drivers in the capital.
According to the London Development Agency only 5 per cent of London’s taxi drivers are from BME communities while just 1.6 per cent are women despite these groups constituting one third and one half of Londoners respectively.
The project will support people from under-represented groups in participating and completing the Knowledge. Additionally, help will also be provided where appropriate in language and numeracy skills, and childcare provision.
Launching the programme the Mayor Livingstone said “the black cab is one of London’s most instantly recognisable trademarks and is an incredibly important part of London’s transport network. This project will help address the barriers to employment that currently exist for women and people from Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities to participate in this important part of our city’s life.”
Manny Lewis, Chief Executive of the London Development Agency, said the initiative would “achieve greater diversity in the taxi trade to ensure that it is more representative of London’s population.”
All applicants for the scheme must be over 21 and will need to meet the Public Carriage Office’s eligibility criteria which includes the need to have a full driving licence, have leave to take up full time employment in the UK and successfully complete a Criminal Records Bureau check.
Those meeting these requirements will be interviewed to ensure they are aware of what the Knowledge programme consists of, the likely time it will take to complete and to sign up to a learning plan that will require them to achieve agreed milestones within an agreed timeframe in order to remain on the programme.
The scheme has attracted support from a number of organisations representing qualifying groups. Dr Bahri from the Muslim Council of Britain, said “schemes like this provide an opportunity for every resident to help contribute to the economic success of our city. I congratulate the Mayor for his work on this scheme.”
The Chair of the Consortium for Bengali Associations, Mahmud Hasan MBE, said his body “fully supports the Mayor’s initiative” adding “We wish to see more opportunities created to enable more people from the Bangladeshi community to become Black Cab Drivers”.
The scheme has also been welcomed by the Women’s Resource Centre’s Vivienne Hayes who said her group “acknowledges and thanks the Mayor for continuing to address issues concerning women’s inequality and poverty, particularly in the current environment where the discourse around gender consistently fails to address the continued discrimination faced by all women.”