Brighton Employment and Skills Plan: How Does It Shape Up?

The City Employment and Skills Plan (CESP) was born out of the need to continue improving Brighton and Hove’s employment rate. Although the city prospered — thanks largely to its booming start-up population, as well as its creative and digital industries — this economic growth did not reach all sectors.

While better than average, Brighton & Hove’s unemployment rate is at 6%, amounting to 8,990 people without jobs in the city.

Additionally, more than 13,000 residents receive Employment Support Allowance (ESA), while apprenticeship figures are below neighbouring cities. NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) numbers are also discouraging.

From November 2015 to January 2016, Brighton and Hove City Council consulted with 200 stakeholders, conducted an online survey of 170 respondents, reviewed employment initiatives across the country, and assessed the labour market to come up with City Employment and Skills Plan that will run from 2016 to 2020.

The plan set out the following goals and actionable steps to be achieved by 2020:

Goal #1: Increase apprenticeships by at least 1,000 new starts in 1,000 days

One of the CESP’s priorities is to support the learn-to-earn transitions of employees, both young and adult, within the city.

Based on their consultations, the council found that initiatives from The Employers Skills Task Force (ESTF) — established in 2015 for employers to increase apprenticeships and improve relationships between businesses and schools — were too focused on younger people.

That said, there is a strong need for adults, who intend to transition between careers, to also have strong relationships with businesses.

Additionally, issues were raised regarding the long-term sustainability of the ESTF’s initiatives, as this will be crucial in keeping all skill information updated. It will also pave the way to opening vocational careers and inspiring young people to take that route.

Lastly, consultations revealed that current apprenticeship offers are not as effective, due to the quality of provisions, market competitiveness, qualifications and job readiness of young people.

Actionable Steps:

To create 1,000 new starts in 1,000 days, Brighton will make skill infrastructure and funding work more efficiently for employees of all ages by:

  • Making the most of the Apprenticeship Levy for all key sectors
  • Offering support for providers to develop their offers and collaborate for financing
  • Using more knowledge to amend skills provision
  • Developing a Greater Brighton Employer Brokerage service to support employers as they purchase training
  • Creating a Greater Brighton City Region Brand and Campaign to sit behind the Brokerage and help drive engagement up, as well as provide accountability to its constituents

Goal #2: Support 2,000 long-term unemployed people to move into sustainable employment

With the “No one left behind” initiative, Brighton aims to provide sustainable employment to residents and workers who are at a disadvantage in the labour market. This could come in the form of unemployment, an absence of ambition, or low salaries.

Consultations revealed three key issues:

  1. A high number of residents are claiming ESA.
  2. Individuals are struggling to sustain their day-to-day expenses due to the unstable nature of employment, thereby risking their households to fall into debt and homelessness.
  3. Despite the city’s Living Wage Campaign, rising housing costs and rents make it harder for working individuals to sustain their lifestyle, especially those who are caught in the low-skill-low-pay cycle.

Actionable Steps:

For Brighton to provide support to 2,000 long-term unemployed residents, the city will make providers, finances and services function better by:

  • Providing more targeted support for Black and Minority Ethnicity (BME) and disability groups
  • Developing tools for data gathering and sharing, in order to identify needs more efficiently
  • Developing integrated case management to tailor fit the city’s initiatives according to the individual’s needs

Goal #3: Secure 3,000 opportunities to help residents develop their skills, experience, and career through the Employer Pledge

The council’s consultations revealed that previous initiatives only focused on providing help to key growth sectors (e.g. health and life sciences, financial, public sector, tourism, etc).

However, other industries (e.g. hospitality, leisure, retail, etc) are equally important. Therefore, employment and skills support is needed for all sectors to help residents, regardless of experience level, to secure jobs.

Moreover, pre-employment initiatives rarely tailor the skills to the jobs employees are applying for. This then created issues around employees’ work readiness during their applications, as well as the level of their technical and practical skill sets. 

Lastly, the council found that small and micro businesses are struggling to survive.

Actionable Steps:

For Brighton to secure 3,000 opportunities for its residents, the city will make sure that both businesses and workers will benefit from the city’s growth by:

  • Managing and overseeing the Employer Pledge
  • Providing targeted support for small and micro businesses
  • Developing more support for high-growth and high-innovation businesses
  • Maximising Local Growth Funding to keep building infrastructures and developing employment space

Making the Brighton & Hove CESP Happen

With strong collaboration between leaders and action groups, as well as the implementation of better accountability, the council’s CESP 2016 to 2020 provides a great opportunity for Brighton & Hove to improve its employment support.

Although its fundamentals leave no stone unturned, it is still in the execution where the true test lies. It is now in its residents’ hands to stay vigilant and keep their leaders in check, making sure each commitment is delivered.

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