As organisations from right across the UK flag issues confronting thousands of jobseekers during a nationwide awareness day, OxLEP has been highlighting the success of key programmes that are helping communities to progress in the ‘world of work’.
Employability Day 2023 – which is led by ERSA (Employment Related Services Association) and takes place this Friday (30 June) – sees supporting companies back a variety of different activities, including a social media campaign, dubbed: #WorkingForBetterWork.
To tie-in with the awareness day, OxLEP Skills has been showcasing the high impact its work, developing Community Employment Plans, has had across Oxfordshire.
For much of the past decade, OxLEP has collaborated with local authorities and companies in the county to help ensure that large-scale infrastructure projects can add value to communities in Oxfordshire, through Community Employment Plans – employer-led initiatives which can be a requirement either as a planning condition or Section 106 obligation for significant developments.
WATCH: OxLEP and Community Employment Plans
OxLEP Skills aims to support major developers and employers to create their own Community Employment Plan alongside district economic development leads.
As well as significant, historical impacts – including delivering a Community Employment Plan for the Westgate Oxford development, which alone led to 15% of on-site workers having an Oxfordshire postcode, 40% of contracts awarded within the local supply chains, plus support of 15 apprenticeships throughout the site’s construction – the programme of activity is also expected to generate future legacy too.
Community Employment Plans developed in partnership with OxLEP Skills are expected to support the following between 2022 and 2027:
- 161 apprenticeships
- 162 work experience placements for those furthest from the labour market
- 60 career-focused events with Oxfordshire schools, colleges and employment agencies
And with such key impacts, OxLEP Skills are keen to highlight on Employability Day 2023 that other large-scale projects could benefit from its expertise with Community Employment Plans.
Cat Armstrong – Community Employment Plan Advisor at OxLEP – said: “Community Employment Plans aim to enhance employment and training initiatives which arise from major developments and make them available to the wider community.
“New developments often result in the creation of new jobs. Industries therefore need a locally-skilled workforce for roles. This builds a resilient economy and delivers real social value for Oxfordshire communities.
“We currently support 15 Community Employment Plans in the county and believe this delivers over £500,000 of additional social value in Oxfordshire – it’s therefore, a major initiative for us and one that we are keen to highlight on Employability Day, encouraging engagement with even more companies.”
One further benefit of the Community Employment Plans includes the way in which OxLEP Skills has been able to build strong relationships with employers who can offer jobs and meaningful training opportunities to those looking to get into employment and gain qualifications and work experience.
Another initiative, being delivered as part of OxLEP Skills’ Social Contract Programme – a programme funded through the government’s Contain Outbreak Management Fund via Oxfordshire County Council, which aims to help those most-impacted by the pandemic – is its ‘No Limits’ project, delivered by the charity SOFEA in partnership with another Oxfordshire charity, Aspire.
The programme funds triage workers to be located across Oxfordshire, providing skills-related advice and guidance to community food larder customers.
Since its launch last year, ‘No Limits’ has already worked with 265 individuals to help them identify potential career pathways. It has also provided tools and information to help individuals make positive and informed decisions.
Individuals have been supported in key areas, including helping to reduce digital deprivation and literacy via free laptops and IT tuition, transportation to-and-from places of work and supporting the identification of suitable jobs and the navigation of subsequent application processes.
One recent such case saw an individual access ‘No Limits’ via a larder charity, due to financial struggles and difficulty in putting food on the table.
They were initially embarrassed to be there, but after speaking to a triage worker, the individual learned about the additional support available to her.
She had a keen interest in holistic healing and wanted to pursue courses to further her career – however, she did not have access to a laptop to complete these courses, which left her feeling lost and unsure as to how to proceed.
‘No Limits’ provided access to technology to support the person’s career aspirations. They provided the individual with a laptop the following week, which allowed her to access the necessary courses to develop her skills and pursue her passion for holistic healing.
Thanks to the support, the individual was able to gain the necessary skills to further her career and has since expressed her gratitude. This support not only helped the individual overcome their immediate financial struggles but also provided a long-term solution to help them achieve their career goals.
OxLEP Skills hope to ensure even more people and organisations – with access to individuals furthest from the labour market – are aware of the ‘No Limits’ programme and the positive impact it can have on Oxfordshire communities.