Making work local

Councils can improve jobs and skills outcomes for less if given the powers to coordinate local provision.

Labour market and skills issues differ from place to place.

New analysis for the LGA confirms that a ‘one size’ or even ‘five sizes fits all’ national approach to employment and skills cannot address these local issues effectively.

We know how much you want to work with partners to address local challenges, including high vacancies and growing numbers of people not looking for work, and to capitalise on opportunities created by green growth, automation, and new global markets.

For too long, however, local government has had limited routes to discuss employment and skills issues with government, with funding short-term, fragmented and held centrally, and powers to affect change too remote, unless you are part of an area with a devolution deal.

In England, 49 national employment and skills-related schemes or services are managed by multiple Whitehall departments and agencies, delivered over different boundaries by various providers.

No single organisation is responsible for coordinating this locally, making it difficult to target and join up provision for learners, unemployed people, career changers and businesses.

The ‘Levelling up the UK’ White Paper could transform the employment and skills system, opening the possibility for new and strengthened devolution and for all places to have devolved powers by 2030.

The LGA’s own Work Local model for an integrated and devolved employment and skills service is a ready-made blueprint for making this happen sooner.

Democratically elected local leaders would have the power and funding to work with partners to join up careers advice and guidance, employment, skills, apprenticeships, business support services and outreach in the community.

The LGA will shortly be publishing new analysis of the cost benefits of the Work Local model, which are expected to run into tens of millions of pounds, and benefit not just the local economy and people moving into work, but also the health and wellbeing of local communities.

Integrated and devolved employment and skills services are good for the economy – they join up services, respond to local economic needs, and deliver better outcomes at lower costs.

But they are also good for people – with more personalised, joined-up and responsive services – and employers, by delivering a locally rooted, demand-led and integrated approach.

To make this happen and improve the system for all areas, local and national government need a new partnership in place by the end of 2022. We need to:

  • get the basics right everywhere and embed ‘place’ and local oversight into all provision and agree improvements to join up the offer more effectively across all places
  • empower local leaders to go a step further by agreeing a framework for employment and skills devolution
  • implement Work Local and roll out more place partnerships before 2030. 

In early May, the LGA will be launching ‘Work Local – unlocking talent to level up’. Championed by the LGA’s People and Places and City Regions Boards, it will demonstrate how we can build on the Government’s ‘Levelling up the UK’ White Paper to draw together a coherent framework for devolution, and set out our recommendations to Whitehall to improve the current system for all places.

Author

For the latest on the LGA’s Work Local programme, please visit our employment and skills topic page. See also the LGA’s reports on ‘Local green jobs’ and ‘Councils’ role in supporting the exports industry’ and its work on mapping national employment and skills.

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