Cabinet to discuss plans to improve support around employment and skills

woman and man pointing at box

On Tuesday 26 July, a decision will be made at Cabinet on proposals to improve our support around employment and skills.

What do the plans include? 

The new plans cover the next few years up to 2025.

The plans focus on making sure over-16s in Kirklees have the skills they need to get a job and progress in work. As well as making sure that employers have access to the skills they need for growth.

They aim to tackle the challenges of a rapidly changing economy, recruitment difficulties and skills shortages. This is by addressing local needs and investing long-term in skills provision at all levels.

We will work with many partners to deliver its objectives, in the public, private and third sectors.

What is the first area of priority? 

The first area of priority work within the plan is in empowering young people. Making sure that they are able to find good quality employment and progress in work, regardless of their personal circumstances or background.

Alongside pre-existing challenges, this addresses evidence that the pandemic has accentuated local inequalities. It has also negatively affected the employment prospects for many young people in Kirklees.

If the plans are approved, we would continue to build on the existing offer which includes Works Better 15-25 and borough-wide provision from C&K Careers.

There will be support to connect young people with apprenticeships or further education opportunities.

Work will also be done with local employers to make sure those education opportunities are giving people the desirable skills to make them employable.

Digital inclusion 

Another priority area is digital inclusion. Our research has determined that the most prominent skills gap in Kirklees is a lack of IT and digital competency. Meanwhile the demand for digital skills has increased over recent years due to the pandemic.

We are therefore proposing to improve its digital training facilities and further develop its programmes of work around digital skills.  This will include providing Digital Hubs across Kirklees. It will also mean training more Digital Champions within the community. The Digital Champions will be able to help others improve their confidence online. As well as using digital devices in a safe and secure way. We will focus on connecting people not just with digital upskilling at a basic level, but also with higher level courses like coding and programming.

Engaging with residents 

Another of our priorities is engaging residents from disadvantaged groups, and reconnecting them with the labour market.  Despite numbers decreasing nationally, Kirklees saw a rise in the number of people accessing community learning during the pandemic. We quickly refocused our provision to help with home schooling, support with mental health and wellbeing, and help people who had become unemployed as a result of the pandemic.  This momentum in terms of provision within local communities would be taken forwards and built upon.

Working with strategic partners

We would continue to work closely with strategic partners. For example, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) and will seek to expand Kirklees’ adult learning offering.  Programmes like the council’s existing Works Better offering and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) provision would be crucial.

Supporting our residents

More support would be offered to people who have been out of work for a long time, helping them progress towards employment or self-employment.  We would look to increase participation amongst under-represented groups. As well as making sure more people have access to good quality training in basic numeracy and literacy as well as higher levels of education.

The plan places a focus on skills which will be useful for the future, as Kirklees’ different industry sectors develop.

There are likely to be more jobs in construction, IT, professional services and green technologies over the coming years. The health and social care sector will continue to employ a large number of people. This would be particularly in light of Huddersfield’s upcoming National Health Innovation Campus.  Meanwhile, other sectors may still be struggling with the after-affects of the pandemic.  Kirklees’ changing employment landscape would be taken into account in terms of the skills provision offered.

We would work with local residents to reskill where necessary. This would help people acquire important transferrable skills which will be valued by employers across a range of industries.  Work would also be done with local employers to help them understand the local training offer and provide apprenticeship opportunities for staff of all ages. As well as investing in workplace development, and provide better quality jobs.

If the detailed plans are approved by Cabinet on 26 July, a new Employment & Skills Commission would be established to oversee the plans’ delivery.

Councillor Graham Turner, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said:

“Our plan for the future of employment and skills provision is absolutely about looking to the future of Kirklees and making sure everyone is brought along for that journey.  This plan is underpinned by aspiration, achievement, and inclusion.

“Our economy is changing rapidly right now, partly due to the challenges of the pandemic in recent years.  We want to make sure this translates into great opportunities for those living and working in Kirklees, not just challenges

“If these plans are approved, we will continue to build on our current support programmes, and lay more crucial foundations to help both employers and employees get access to the skills they need to help achieve their potential, and grow the economy of Kirklees.”