Employment and Skills
- Meeting of Children and Young People Select Committee, Thursday, 2nd December, 2021 10.00 am (Item 5.)
To report progress on the Inspire to Achieve programme in developing the skills and employment sector (also scrutinised by Economy and Development Select Committee).
The chair advised that this report had been scrutinised by the Economy and Development Select Committee and that it was being brought to this committee to on an information basis to update members on the activities being delivered by the Employment and Skills Team. The chair asked officers to briefly present the report, the main points highlighted being:
· The Team has undergone a restructure, with delivery now including Kickstart, InFuSe and the extended Communities for Work Plus delivery team.
· Kickstart is a UK Employment programme developed in response to Covid 19 and is part of the UK Government’s Covid response within their ‘Plan for Jobs’, aiming to create thousands of new, fully funded jobs across England, Scotland and Wales. The scheme aligns with Welsh Government’s Employability Plan in preparing for a radical shift in the world of work, responding to current and future skills gaps and providing a personalised approach to employability support. The Scheme aims to create fully subsidised, six-month work placements for individuals aged 16- 24 who are claiming Universal Credit and are at risk of long-term unemployment.
· InFuSe: this is the European Social Fund (ESF) public sector innovative future services programme, which aims to build skills and capacity for Innovation in public services across the Cardiff Capital Region. The programme enables employees to seek to tackle a range of real-world local challenges including Decarbonisation of Council fleets; Home energy efficiency; Opportunities for energy from dog fouling; Maximising supply chains through procurement; and Asset Based Community Development.
· The Employment and Skills Team are leading on/delivering projects with an estimated value of £2.4m in the 2021-22 financial year in line with project targets and outcomes.
· Inspire2Achieve, Inspire2Work and Skills@Work which are ESF funded projects, will end in December 2022 with the conclusion of this EU funding stream. This presents a challenge for the sustainability of the local authorities’ NEET and unemployment figures. The loss of provision coupled with the experience, knowledge and skills set of these teams will negatively impact upon Monmouthshire residents.
· Torfaen County Borough Council are leading on an Employability Paper on behalf of the ten Local Authorities of the Cardiff Capital Region, which sets out the region’s future employment and skills demands and explores how the Shared Prosperity Fund can support this going forward.
· The report that has been approved by the CCR Strategic Board will be taken through all the Local Authorities’ Cabinets.
· In the interim, a regional Community Renewal Fund bid was submitted for short term funding between August 2021 and March 2022 in readiness for a subsequent bid to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund in 2022/23.
· It is hoped that the bid will enhance the current service by:
- Developing a Triage system – a mechanism to ensure referrals to the right support;
- Employing a Wellbeing Engagement Worker
- Enhancing the Digital and outreach engagement
- Sourcing employment opportunities in Construction and Digital
- Targeting employment support for homeless/at risk of homelessness
The chair thanked the team who had given their time to present to members on the breadth of their work and invited questions from members:
· Can I clarify whether young people who take a year out of university are counted as NEET?
Yes, this would include anyone who is not engaged in any educational training, so this can include athletes and people who have many different reasons, so it’s important that the team explores the figures in order to determine why people may not be in education or employment and if they would benefit form our services. Some young people are suffering anxiety and would benefit from our support and through the pandemic, it has become more evident. Some may be missing support they should be receiving from child and Adult Mental Health Services but key to this is understanding the reasons and helping to support them. The Early Help Panel is effective in providing that entry point and anchor for them, particularly if they are receiving continuing support.
· It’s reassuring to hear ‘Inspire to Achieve’ is starting in year 6. If funding is due to end, can you elaborate on your future funding position?
We have been recently successful in interim funding ahead of the UK Prosperity Funding and we are working as 10 local authorities to determine what comes next in terms of a regional approach to a local delivery plan. We want to continue to provide support at keys stage 2 and through to 3 and we’d like to return in the summer with an update on that.
· Are you fully engaged with the 4 comprehensives?
We have a worker in each f the schools who are part of the staffing and that allowed support to be put in place very quickly, unlike in some other schools in other counties where the support is more on a ‘drop in’ basis. We see this as pivotal.
· Looking at Appendix 3 and the various schemes, I’m not sure whether participants are from Monmouthshire, so if in a further report, we could have a breakdown so that we can draw comparisons, that would be helpful.
The numbers are Monmouthshire specific, but I can provide numbers for wider Gwent if you would like to draw those comparisons.
Maggie Harris declared a personal but non prejudicial interest as a governor as a member of Deri View Primary.
· These support systems can go under the radar if not known about. These sort of systems such as the Early Help System enables them to drop in and out of children’s lives as needed and is an invaluable support mechanism for young people. I fully support the work you are doing.
The chair gave thanks to the team for their invaluable work in supporting young people at transition stage between key stage 2 (primary) to key stage 3 (comprehensive) and the interventions are critical for children whose parents may not be able to advocate on their behalf, The committee was reassured in terms the ongoing funding position to nsure these youngster do not remain in a position of not in education or employment, so the committee was heartened to hear that the support is provide to these young people in these circumstances. The committee agreed to invite officers to return in the summer of 2022.