The Committee received a presentation from the Senior Project & Growth Officer for Employment & Skills regarding the work underway for the Employment and Skills Partnership. She explained that the partnership had been in place for four years and now had 12 member organisations from the public, private, voluntary and education sectors. She added that West Lindsey District Council was the only district represented on the Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership board and the only district in the county to have a skills partnership, a dedicated Employment and Skills Officer, a constituted Employment Board and an annual budget of £10,000, which was approved 18 months ago to support the delivery plan. The Committee heard details of the Made in Gainsborough initiative which created and supported jobs in the Gainsborough area and also the committed work taking place at several local schools, academies and colleges which was already showing significant benefits across the area.
The Senior Project & Growth Officer explained that there was also significant work being undertaken in order to improve support for unemployed young people and their access to work. She explained the council was working with a number of partner agencies such as Acis, the DWP and voluntary services in order to provide impartial advice, advocacy services and support with finding and successfully gaining employment. Members were told of the recent success of a careers event involving the new local restaurant in Gainsborough where almost all of those employed had been identified at the careers event.
There was further information provided regarding the success of the apprenticeships provided through the Made in Gainsborough initiative. Members heard there were significant plans in place for further initiatives based on the Made in Gainsborough model as well as closer working partnerships with the University of Lincoln to highlight opportunities for graduates in the area. The Senior Project & Growth Officer explained there was a delivery plan in place for the retention of graduates from the University of Lincoln and encouraging growth and graduate opportunities in the Gainsborough area. She concluded by thanking Councillors for their support of the Employment and Skills Partnership and assured them there would be continued focus on these areas.
The Chairman thanked the Senior Project & Growth Officer for the detail of her presentation and also the work she was involved with so passionately. He then invited comments from Members of the Committee.
There was consensus across the Committee that, not only was the presentation comprehensive and well delivered, but the commitment to this area of development was highly commendable. There were discussions regarding the challenges faced by young people seeking employment and the difficulties specifically in West Lindsey, either as a result of rural localities or lack of employment opportunities in general. It was also acknowledged that there were increasing numbers of young people facing significant mental health difficulties. The need for specialist or intensive support and intervention for these young people was not always possible to meet through the usual employment support routes. The relevance of academic qualifications was mentioned and the Committee heard that there was due to be the introduction of technical qualifications which were the equivalent of A-Levels but would be delivered through employers. This then created the need for sufficient numbers of businesses to sign up to the scheme in order for it to be a viable route for young people. The Senior Project & Growth Officer confirmed there were numerous employers offering apprenticeships, which was a positive, but there would have to be further engagement with regards to the technical qualifications.
Note: Councillor T. Regis left the meeting at 7.27pm
A Member of Committee enquired what links there were with uniformed services, such as the police. The Committee heard that the uniformed organisations, along with the council, were part of a public service compact designed to promote and encourage employment in public service. It was explained that the Armed Forces tended to run their own recruitment drives and the police had also recently run a recruitment campaign, however it was acknowledged that there could be more done to promote public service as a career choice. This included not just the uniformed services but also local councils such as West Lindsey District Council.
Vice-Chairman McNeill enquired as to when the first update would be available in the Members’ Bulletin and it was confirmed the next edition was due in mid-February. The Senior Project & Growth Officer confirmed she would distribute the update as soon as possible. She noted there was also a presentation booked for Councillors to attend the following week.
The Chairman brought discussions to a close by again thanking the Senior Project & Growth Officer for her commendable work. Having been proposed and seconded it was unanimously
a) The programme of activities delivered by the Employment & Skills Partnership, and the future planned work, be endorsed and support by the Prosperous Communities Committee; and
b) Regular updates be provided by the Senior Project & Growth Officer for Employment & Skills via the Members’ Bulletin.