In the context of high unemployment nationally and stagnating growth under the Tory-led Government, Labour councils are working hard to drive growth and employment opportunities in their areas.
- Nottingham City Council – Growth Plan
- Leicester City Council – Economic Action Plan
- Plymouth City Council – Jobs Taskforce
- Darlington Borough Council – Foundation for Jobs
- Newham London Borough Council – Workplace
- Wakefield District Council – NEET strategy
- Liverpool City Council – Procurement Board
Nottingham City Council has developed its own growth plan in collaboration with the private sector, with responsibilities for the council in supporting ultraband, transport, jobs and training. The plan will provide infrastructure for growth, prioritising green energy, the digital sector and bio and health sciences. It designates an area of the city as a creative quarter where new enterprises will be encouraged to invest. The council is planning to provide private and public sector loans to new businesses which bypass banks in the present financially constrained environment, but which also provide a reasonable commercial return.
The Leicester Economic Action Plan is designed to unlock the potential for growth in the city by establishing four sector-specific Business Investment Areas, developing new job opportunities and raising skills levels through the Leicester to Work initiative and investing in the Connecting Leicester project to strengthen the retail, commercial, historic and cultural offer in the city centre. The plan combines a long-term vision for a growing and sustainable local economy – such as enabling world class broadband infrastructure, accelerating business growth and start-up survival rates, delivering an efficient transport infrastructure and high quality, low carbon development – with more immediate priorities to tackle worklessness and youth unemployment. The council will work to ensure a more coordinated and locally accountable approach to improving skills and delivering quality training across the city, while specific programmes will target particular groups, such as the Step Up initiative to address youth unemployment by working offering 18 to 24-year-olds 26 weeks of paid employment in a job that will give them the skills and experience that the current local labour market needs .
Plymouth City Council has set up a taskforce to devise a plan for jobs in the city. This involves the university, colleges, private sector, social enterprises and the wider community to establish how best to make a sustainable difference to local people's job prospects and match them with opportunities that exist. As part of this, a '1,000 jobs in 1,000 companies' initiative is being developed and implemented over a two-year period, to create more opportunities for people.
Darlington Borough Council's Foundation for Jobs initiative has four specific targets to create new apprenticeships; create new internships or work placements; increase contact between young people at schools and colleges with industry; and entrepreneurial skills training, all for residents of the borough. Local knowledge and understanding informs a tailored approach to partners including schools and businesses, particularly SMEs, and the scheme has already delivered above the planned targets. It is being extended both within Darlington and there are plans to replicate the model across the Tees Valley.
The London Borough of Newham's Workplace scheme is a council-led jobs brokerage service that delivers localised and personalised support to residents and employers. It has helped get more than 13,000 people into work since it started in 2007, with a one year on retention rate of 76 per cent. Analysis of the service found that when a CV of a Newham resident gets sent to a firm only 2 per cent of people end up with a job, but when Workplace works with employers 50 per cent get a job, and when it embeds staff with employer organisations 80 per cent get a job.
Wakefield also has an intensive focus on reducing the number of young people who are NEET – the proportions have nearly halved in three years from 12.1 per cent in 2009 to 7.05 per cent in 2012, going against the national trend. Strong partnership working between the council, schools, further education institutions, employers and Connexions results in an annually agreed NEET strategy, the implementation of which is rigorously monitored and will cover targeted interventions, increasing awareness and prevention. The Wakefield Challenge in 2012 to businesses to create 100 jobs in 100 days resulted in 194 young people being taken on in public and private sector organisations. A Skills Action Plan is now a key part of Wakefield District Council's Jobs and Growth Plan 2012-17 which will develop this collaborative approach to promote apprentices including introducing a 'one stop shop' to coordinate recruitment across the district.
Liverpool City Council has made it a priority to use socially responsible contractors and suppliers as it spends its £270 million budget for buying goods and services. A new Procurement Board has been set up to coordinate activity across the council and ensure decisions have a positive impact on jobs and skills within the city. Rules will favour organisations with a smaller gap between the highest and lowest paid staff, social enterprises that put profits back into creating more jobs and firms which demonstrate clear local benefits.