Work Local: Councils’ role in the employment and skills landscape in the UK

In England, the current skills and employment system consists of at least 49 national employment and skills related schemes or services managed by nine Whitehall departments. No single organisation is responsible for coordinating this activity locally. However, with adequate resources local government can deliver. Our local government partners across the UK are already on a path to achieving this.

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Scotland has a population of 5.5 million. Each of the 32 local authorities have formal local employability partnerships which are accountable for annual needs-based funding allocations agreed by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and the Scottish Government. The Local Employability Partnership Framework indicates membership, remit and the coordination role of local authorities. Discussions are ongoing regarding multi year funding. Scotland’s equivalent to Restart (Fair Start Scotland) will run as a national offer until March 2023 then localised and rolled in to the No One Left Behind approach. A DWP / local government partnership agreement to improve effectiveness of operations is in the process of being agreed. At a political level, COSLA co-chairs the Tackling Labour Market Inequalities Group with two Scottish Government Ministers. Community Learning and Development Partnerships operate on the same 32 Local Authority footprints so employment and skills provision is much better aligned locally.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has a population of 1.9 million, only slightly more than the county of Essex (1.8 million). The eleven councils have local labour market partnerships which bring all partners together to address long term unemployment and inactivity, which are then developed into actions plans and signed off by the Minister for Employment. Northern Ireland local authorities have a much stronger role in setting local priorities for employment and skills provision, funding provision and overseeing delivery across services. Work Local has some strong similarities to the new Northern Ireland structure for delivering services.


Wales is home to 3.1 million people, just more than the West Midlands (2.9 million). It has a strong partnership with local government to deliver Communities for Work, an employability support and advisory service in more deprived areas, and Career Wales actively coordinates with local authorities although Employability Plan was not co-produced with local authorities. Local authorities play a key role in the four City and Growth Deals and the Regional Skills Partnerships (RSPs) which lead labour market intelligence and advise the Welsh Government on skills provision. Wales demonstrates the benefits of delivering effective employability services across the country, and the potential of engaging local government.

About Work Local

Work Local, is our ambitious, practical vision for devolved and integrated employment and skills provision.

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