Reigate and Banstead Borough Council developed a bespoke website for local residents to showcase local employers, promote local opportunities and the benefits of living and working locally. They also customised an existing product for schools, providing careers advice with details of key local industries and employers.
Reigate & Banstead has a thriving economy with good commuting links to London and the south coast. The borough has an economically active population of 77,700 and is home to more than 7,000 companies, providing 69,800 local jobs.
Reigate & Banstead’s business community includes 80 medium-sized businesses and 30 large businesses – quite a few of these are the UK or European head offices of global companies such as Willis Towers Watson, Kimberly-Clark and Pfizer.
Many residents commute out of the borough each day to work in London and other areas and research indicates that there tends to be low awareness of local employment opportunities among residents.
Companies say they struggle to recruit staff despite a skilled resident population.
In partnership with its larger local employers, Reigate & Banstead Council therefore started to develop its plans for a ‘Live Local, Work Local’ project with funding from Retained Business Rates.
Since the project launch in February 2021, the employment landscape has altered in response to COVID-19. It is likely that there could be less commuting and more hybrid working going forward, more local people looking to enter the local job market, and companies seeking skilled local people to help them as they manage change. There also appears to be a shortage of staff in key sectors such as the hospitality sector (a situation which is seen nationally).
The Live Local, Work Local message is now possibly stronger than ever.
The Live Local, Work Local project has given us an opportunity to understand the local employment landscape in much more detail and to develop some tools to meet the needs of both employers and local residents. We began by researching commuter patterns and sentiment in the borough with a commuter survey. We then brought a group of our large local employers together to share this research and to further understand their needs. They then helped us design a solution to address the issues.
- Awareness raising among local residents – we needed a way to promote local employment opportunities and raise the profile of local employers within the borough to our local residents.
- Growing the talent pipeline – we also recognized the need to make secondary school age children aware of the range of jobs and sectors available locally. By connecting them to local employers, they can make more informed career decisions.
We developed a tender to create two websites which would be used to profile a number of our larger employers, allowing both residents and students to understand the range of opportunities and employers available.
The student-facing site is called Start Reigate & Banstead and leads young people through a series of steps to help them identify their skills, career options and examples of local employers and key employment sectors in the borough as well as ‘how to’ careers guides.
The RB-works site is targeted at the working age population and also contains information on each of the largest employment sectors within the borough, a live job search, an apprenticeship search, free digital skills training opportunities, advice on CV writing and Zoom interviews as well as case study blogs.
Both sites rely on dynamic as well as static content and a budget has been set aside for online promotion and advertising of the RB Works site.
Mo O’Brien, UK HR Director, Kimberly-Clark, said: “We are delighted to be working with Reigate & Banstead Borough Council to highlight employment opportunities with local businesses. We are always looking to find new talent locally and we offer a range of diverse opportunities based in Reigate but working across the EMEA (Europe, Middle-East and Africa) region and across our leading brands including Andrex, Kleenex and Huggies, as well as our Professional brands.”
Chloe Fineman, Technology Recruiter-GB, Willis Towers Watson, said: “The new Reigate & Banstead employment website is a free-to-use platform that will help to promote jobs in the local area. It is important that local opportunities are accessible and visible to residents and this is a quick and easy way for employers in the area to highlight the vacancies they have available.”
- In June we logged 1,789 sessions on the RB Works site with 1,115 unique users
- The site is also being used with the local Youth Hub scheme to provide information on jobs, apprenticeships and skills
- 2,636 students regularly use the Start Reigate & Banstead site across four schools and colleges
How is the new approach being sustained?
Retained Business Rates budget continues to be used to cover site maintenance costs and to post new content to the sites.
- COVID-19 proved to be an unexpected and challenging backdrop to the development of the employment sites. We learned to be flexible and to evolve the site to keep it relevant to the changing employment landscape. The site now includes information about training opportunities and case studies about moving between sectors for those who may have lost their jobs.
- Large employers are busy and so we learned to find ways for them to engage in the project which would be easy for them. We drafted copy for them to approve, and held focus groups so they could discuss with their peers. We steered clear of a traditional jobs board for the site which would have involved double posting of jobs by companies.
- Search Engine Optimisation is key. Your site can be the best ever but will not be used unless it can be found.