The Cabinet Member for Jobs, Skills and Community Safety, Councillor Jacqui Dyer, introduced the Lambeth Skills and Employment Strategy. It was explained that the Strategy, developed with partners from the Lambeth Skills and Employment Board, provided a framework of employment, skills and training priorities and actions that would contribute to the Borough Plan goal to enable communities to benefit from opportunities in Lambeth and across London.
It was noted that the Strategy, set out at Appendix 2 of the report, had been based on analysis of relevant economic data as well as qualitative feedback from residents, employers, and partners about the steps that were required to ensure residents had access to jobs and training. Councillor Dyer emphasised that a key aim of the Strategy was to address inequalities, especially in relation to the economic impact of Covid-19.
- The close collaboration and partnership working between the College and the Council to deliver the Skills and Employment Strategy to benefit local residents.
- The College’s technology and digital education was closely aligned with Labour Market Information (LMI) data and its curriculum matched current and future jobs to fulfil its promise as a gateway organisation.
- The delivery of English language skills for speakers of other languages would help support adults into new jobs, retraining and upskilling; in addition to responding to the economic effects of Covid-19.
- A Youth Hub was launching on 7 December 2020 to provide a gateway for residents across the borough into jobs, re-skilling and upskilling.
Natalie Creary, Black Thrives Programme Delivery Director, commended work that had taken place to develop the Strategy, for its co-production and for embracing a collective impact model. The following comments were also noted:
- The need for the Strategy to address mental health and equality in Lambeth.
- The importance of focusing on those furthest away from the jobs market, and their progression, due to structural barriers, with an emphasis on tackling inequality.
- Black Thrive had a project, funded by Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust (GSTT), to review barriers faced by black people with long-term health conditions in accessing and sustaining good work; and it encouraged the Council to use this and other projects, to incorporate further opportunities and develop the Skills and Employment Strategy.
- The need for there to be a balance between supporting people into good jobs and investing into enterprise and creating employment, which should be embedded into the overarching Economic Resilience Strategy to respond to the economic fallout of Covid-19.
Councillor Scott Ainslie, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, also made representations on this item which focussed on:
- The importance of learning lessons from previous schemes and initiatives, and ensuring clarity on how future success would be measured.
- Concerns that, across Lambeth, the percentage of jobs paid below the London Living Wage (LLW) had increased.
- The importance of apprenticeships and utilisation of the Apprenticeship Levy.
- The membership of the Skills and Employment Board, which included the Brixton Business Improvement District (BID) but not other BIDs across Lambeth such as InStreatham BID.
In response to questions, the Director, Enterprise, Jobs and Skills, together with the Head of Economic Inclusion, provided further information on:
- Success measures including the need to report not just on outputs and the performance of individual programmes but also on how people moved through the system. It was noted that the Strategy had been designed so that a systemic approach, to improving the skills offer across the borough, could be delivered.
- The need to do more to improve the quality of work available. It was recognised that the percentage of jobs paid below the LLW had increased over the past ten years, both in Lambeth and across London, due to the growth of sectors such as hospitality and retail. However, it was noted that where the Council could encourage and influence employers to pay the LLW it would, for example through the Council’s supply chain. It was noted that 99% of Council contacts above £100,000 were compliant with the LLW.
- The work that had taken place following recent announcements by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as part of the Spending Review, in relation to apprenticeships and use of the Apprenticeship Levy.
- How the Council was working with the London Progression Collaboration, and other organisations, to ensure it was making the most out of unspent Apprenticeship Levy funds.
- The work the Council was doing across the borough with each of the seven BIDs. It was noted Brixton and South Bank were the only BIDs directly involved with the Skills and Employment Board. However, it was emphasised that the Council was working closely with each of the BIDs, not just Brixton and South Bank, to ensure they were all being supported.
During the discussion that followed, Cabinet considered a wide range of issues, including: actions that would help support mental health recovery and mental health in the workplace, the importance of economic inclusion, the economic context and challenges which had informed the development of the Strategy, the importance of ongoing engagement and consultation with a wide range of partners, and using data to enable targeted support for those in greatest need.
RESOLVED: That the Lambeth Skills and Employment Strategy be adopted.