Resetting the relationship between local and national government. Read our Local Government White Paper

Work Local: local government's wider ranging expertise and functions

Local government is uniquely placed to work shoulder-to-shoulder with Government to unlock talent by spreading opportunity to all parts of the country and support Government ambitions.

A joint local and national government endeavour with strategic focus, shared resources and expertise can support more people into work, improve skills, match people with jobs, and secure the recovery that our residents, communities and businesses deserve.  

What local government brings to the employment and skills table

As well as being democratic leaders of place and trusted convenors of partners, councils and combined authorities have wide-ranging functions and expertise that are vital to getting the skills and employment offer right for their residents, communities, and businesses. These include: 

  • Councils’ education and training related duties: these comprise finding education and training places for children and young people up to the age of 17; identifying and re-engaging young people not in education, employment, and training (NEETs); providing careers advice and guidance to vulnerable young people; supporting young people with special educational needs and disability (SEND). They also have duties for early years, promoting the well-being of all children, and are corporate parents for children in care. 
  • Adult skills planning, commissioning, and delivery: Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCAs) and the Greater London Authority (GLA) continue to effectively shape their adult skills offer locally and bring the further education sector together through devolved Adult Education Budget (AEB). Our Learning for Life report showed how council-run adult and community learning (ACL) provision in devolved and non-devolved areas supports around 600,000 adults every year to develop skills for work and life across 10,000 community venues including libraries, community centres and village halls. ACL has been referred to by the House of Commons Education Select Committee as the cornerstone of adult learning, and rated 93 per cent good or outstanding by Ofsted. ACL services know how to identify, promote, and incentivise residents with low qualifications who are least likely to seek it out.
  • Large employers, commissioners, and direct deliverers of services: responsible for housing, children’s and adults social care, public health and many other services. As large local employers, they look to maximise the impact of national programmes – T-levels, apprenticeships – for their own workforce. They work with the public and private sector to deliver added value employment and skills opportunities through social value clauses in major schemes and contracts.
  • Lead authorities for local growth investment: through the Levelling Up Fund, Community Renewal Fund and UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), mean that local government is well placed to align their economic growth function with employment and skills and provision.
  • Being uniquely placed to understand current and future skills demand: through their economic development and inward investment functions, work with existing and incoming businesses of all sizes including micro businesses to multinationals, and representative bodies (chambers of commerce, federation of small businesses) and with all further education providers often supporting capital investments. 
  • Data analysis and planning: they perform their own granular analysis of national data and generate their own data to ensure national and local provision is targeted and used to develop and connect growth, inward investment, SME, employment and skills strategies and input to wider spatial strategies. 
  • Provide support and wrapround services for young people and adults with complex barriers, so they can be training or work ready through wide ranging services, including public health and its link into health services, Family Information Services, childcare support, housing support and debt advice.  
  • Connect, simplify, and promote multiple national employment, training, skills, and economic growth initiatives, through their services, strategies, and wider civic engagement, encourage collaboration between agencies and providers. If national provision misses the mark locally, it develops its own employment and skills schemes or services - discretionary or devolved – to address gaps or to join up the system.  
  • Civic leaders working across the system, spanning all public services, private and charitable sectors in a place to deliver whole system change, efficiency, and unlock major regeneration projects and opportunities to meet local need.