Progress being made in tackling local skills shortages

Councillors hear update on how various council-led programmes and recruitment drives are helping people get jobs, reports Grace Howarth, Local Democracy Reporter

Enfield Civic Centre and (inset) cabinet member Chinelo Anyanwu
Enfield Civic Centre and (inset) cabinet member Chinelo Anyanwu

Enfield Council is aiming to address skills gaps in the local workforce with a focus on the creative, construction, and health and social care sectors. 

At a regeneration and economic development scrutiny panel yesterday (Tuesday 26th) councillors heard about the successes and future aims of Enfield’s Skills Training Employment Pillar (Step) programme.

The programme was set up to help people secure jobs and began in October 2021. Through the government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) it will continue until March 2025. 

Residents who have suffered long-term unemployment or economic inactivity receive “frontline support” through Step, including free one-to-one support, advice, and coaching via an employment and training pathway. 

Between September 2022 and December 2023, 542 local residents enrolled on to the programme, with 40 jobs and 100 education or training outcomes secured.

The Step team reported it had “over performed” in its first month under its contract with UKSPF. The programme and other wraparound key worker services enrolled more participants than had been forecast. 

Laura Martins, the council’s head of inclusive growth and skills, said a recruitment event held in October 2023 was “absolutely fantastic”. 

She said: “The event reached over 400 job seekers and because of the absolute support and demand for it, we put on another event last week which was held at Southbury Leisure Centre.

“That reached over 1,000 people in terms of the tickets, so we were booked up and actually there was a waiting list. We also had over 50 businesses there, and they were mainly businesses who had attended the first one and really saw that benefit of being able to reach local people.”

In terms of skills gaps, meaning people not having the right skills for jobs available, the council’s inclusive growth and skills service is in the process of developing a construction sector forum to “better utilise” the Construction Skills Academy opened last year at Meridian Water.

The academy’s aim is to provide unemployed residents and those on skilled trade apprenticeships training and certification, appropriate for entry level opportunities across construction and built environments, as well as upskill the existing workforce within the construction sector.

The forum will bring together the College of North East London (Conel) as well as employment and training providers and employers with Section 106 funding from local developers to provide opportunities that will match the phasing of major developments in Enfield, with the first meeting planned for this May.

Enfield’s health and care sector skills gaps are set to be addressed via the  Health and Social Care Academy funded by the Greater London Authority as well as through the care providers forum and via engagement with Barnet and Southgate College. 

The council’s inclusive growth and skills service has also submitted a bid for City Hall funding for skills bootcamps. Still at a  “concept stage”, the housing and regeneration department is aiming to partner with a bootcamp to support heat pump installation and retrofitting of housing stock. 

Committee member Edward Smith said it was “heartening” to see the level of interest in local recruitment events, but wanted more context and statistics as to where skills gaps were and the age range affected. 

Laura felt the age range was “quite generic” and covered a “wide range”. In terms of industries they were focusing on she said the creative industry, green and construction sectors, and health and social care were the main areas. 

Chinelo Anyanwu, cabinet member for public spaces, culture and local economy, said after the first recruitment event, where there were 400 attendees, one out of ten secured employment. 

She said: “One of the specific things the teams have been doing is to ensure they’re following up on all these activities and we’re getting the data back. 

“What this has enabled us to do is look at what kind of employment people are getting, is it part-time or full and, of the attendees, what are their demographics? That’s given us quite useful data which has enabled us to do more targeted work moving forward.”

Committee member Nelly Gyosheva commented on the 40 out of 542 residents enrolled in the Step programme getting jobs, saying this represented a  “less than 8% success”. 

Cllr Anyanwu said there were also learning outcomes as well as residents having things to be overcome “before getting employment”. 

She said where they saw people having issues with their health and wellbeing and food poverty, these were addressed and the resident supported to get them in a position to get back into work. While she didn’t have the percentages this represented Cllr Anyanwu said it was one of the reasons the report showed a “low number” for the Step programme.

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