As part of a new £1.7 million Social Contract Programme, OxLEP Skills is developing its ambitious Community Employment Plan (CEP) programme, which supports local authorities, planning teams and developers to bring new employment and training opportunities for Oxfordshire residents through local construction and development.
OxLEP Skills held its first CEP workshop in September to seek input from economic development teams, developers, consultants and local planning teams, identify support that could be developed during the duration of the programme and showcase benefits from developments where CEPs are currently being delivered.
The event took place at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, where attendees heard from a variety of presenters including Dawn Crawford, Construction & Environment Manager at Harwell, Karen Tolley, Economic Development Lead for South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils and Jen Healy, CSR Consultant and Employability Facilitator at Jen Healy Innovations, consultant for St Modwen, the strategic developer at the Kingsgrove site in Wantage.
Jen said: “We were delighted to attend the CEP workshop to represent St Modwen, to share the successes and to discuss how we have overcome barriers in evolving the Kingsgrove CEP to suit all stakeholders involved within it, whilst exceeding expectations within the agreed targets. It was hugely beneficial to bring all voices together and hear from our equivalent representatives on other CEPs and Council delegates, as by sharing information we learnt a great amount also.”
OxLEP has championed the use of CEPs in development since 2013 and published its first CEP Evidence Paper in 2017 which was endorsed by the Oxfordshire Growth Board, now known as the Future Oxfordshire Partnership. The invaluable perspectives from across public and private spheres shared during the workshop will now be used to refresh the Evidence Paper.
Community Employment Plans can be a planning requirement either through planning conditions or Section 106 obligations. The support provided by OxLEP Skills to authorities and developers intends to maximise the skills and training outcomes from these plans. Over the next 5 years within Oxfordshire, Community Employment Plans aspire to deliver 143 Apprenticeships, 138 work placements, 95 sector-based work academy placements and over 50 career-focussed events for local communities.
Jen added: “CEPs present the opportunity for all contributors to champion and progress their own responsible business ambitions whilst motivating future stakeholders joining the CEPs to instil and achieve their own. We are all working towards the same goal, to reduce the skills gap and inspire the next generation of construction professionals to join this progressive, exciting, diverse, career-filled industry.”
Dinny Shaw, Strategic Land Head of Planning at St. Modwen, said: “For the developer, the CEP is a fantastic opportunity to engage in a positive way with the community in which you are working and to see benefits being delivered to the wider community. It is also a chance to demonstrate the positive aspects of development to a new audience.”
Cat Armstrong, Community Employment Plan Advisor at OxLEP Skills, organised and delivered the workshop. Cat said: “Community Employment Plans assist developers, contractors and major employers in Oxfordshire to support the future talent pipeline that is critical for their business needs. Working with local schools, colleges and adult-training providers to support learning experiences, businesses can attract the next generation to their industry and explain the skills, qualifications and learning which are crucial for industry growth. This workshop was the beginning for the Community Employment Plan programme and we aim to hold future events that support developers and consultants delivering Community Employment Plans within Oxfordshire.”
Pictured (left to right) are: Jen Gant, Project Manager and Jen Healy, CSR Consultant and Employability Facilitator at Jen Healy Innovations; Dawn Crawford, Construction & Environment Manager at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus; Cat Armstrong, Community Employment Plan Advisor at OxLEP Skills; Richard Byard, Director of Business Development at OxLEP and Karen Tolley, Economic Development Lead for South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils.
If you would like more information about Community Employment Plans in Oxfordshire, please contact Cat at [email protected]