Work Local is the LGA's positive vision for an integrated and devolved employment and skills service – bringing together information, advice and guidance alongside the delivery of employment, skills, apprenticeships and wider support for individuals and employers.
Across a local area, Work Local could each year result in 8,500 more people in work and 6,000 increasing their skills. That means that for the average combined authority, £280 million benefits to the public purse alongside a £420 million boost to the economy.
Different central government departments and their agencies are directly responsible for employment and skills policy, design, funding and oversight. These include Jobcentre Plus, the National Careers Service, and the Education and Skills Funding Agency. None of them have a common plan on how to work together or a duty to discuss with councils how services will operate in their local areas. Local areas have little ability to influence their priorities, funding or delivery.
On top of this, 20 employment and skills funding streams are managed by eight departments or agencies, spending more than £10 billion a year. Despite this investment, they often fail to meet local need, address economic and social challenges, or make a decisive impact on outcomes. So while unemployment has fallen across England:
- 4.6 million people want a job or more hours – 14 percent of workforce in England.
- one in nine workers are in insecure work
- nine million people lack literacy and numeracy skills
- four fifths of UK manufacturers struggle to hire staff with the right skills and experience.
By 2024 there will be:
- more than four million too few high-skilled people to take up available jobs
- two million too many with intermediate skills
- more than six million too many low-skilled.
Failure to address these skills gaps put at risk four per cent of future economic growth, while the average worker will be £1,176 a year worse off.
The LGA’s Work Local vision is for combined authorities and groups of councils, working in partnership with local and national partners, to have the powers and funding to plan, commission and have oversight of a joined-up service bringing together advice and guidance, employment, skills, apprenticeships and business support for individuals and employers. Our guiding principles for this vision:
- a 'one stop' service, rooted in place, flexible to local needs
- clear and responsive local leadership
- driven by local opportunities and needs
- a common national framework for devolution
- improved offer for individuals and employers
- governed by Labour Market Agreements (LLMAs).
Local leaders are ready and eager to work in true partnership with central government and national and local partners to help close local skills gaps, boost apprenticeships and social mobility, create good employment opportunities and reduce worklessness but this must be reflected in how powers and funding are allocated
Analysis for the LGA reveals that across a local area, Work Local could each year result in 8,500 more people in work and 6,000 increasing their skills. That means that for a medium sized combined authority, £280 million benefits to the public purse alongside a £420 million boost to the economy.
This is one illustration of the benefits that could be felt across the country. To make our vision a reality, we believe Work Local pathfinders should be trialled in each region across England by 2022 with more to follow in 2024.
While testing Work Local through pathfinders remains our ambition, we can start making a difference today. With support from the Government, groups of councils and combined authorities must be enabled to work with local and national partners to make the current system work better for communities across the country.
We can close the local skills gaps if the Government agreed to a localised approach to skills by:
- Local Industrial Strategy ambitions being fulfilled with devolved powers and funding
- Co-design Adult Education Budget with area not covered by devolution
- Councils having powers and sufficient funding to fulfil their duties to young people
- Develop a local offer so young people have a coherent picture of all post 16 options
- National Retraining Scheme is based on local engagement, leadership, and flexibility
- Co-design an all age, local careers advice offer with
- Start co-designing now for a localised UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF).
We can help increase apprenticeships and social mobility locally if the Government used the upcoming Levy review to:
- Give local area strategic planning powers to widen participation.
- Empower employers to collaborate more easily on transferring funds and pooling.
- Extend duration to spend the Levy against standards which were not in place in time.
- Commit ESFA to co-design with local areas now unspent Levy and non-Levy funding.
- Permit more flexible Levy (to meet programmes and administration etc).
We can create good employment opportunities if the Government were to:
- Locally commission future job support along combined authority and LEP areas
- Commit Jobcentre Plus (JCP) to co-design activity with local partners
- Co-design support to help those with the greatest health needs stay in work
- Ensure JCP Work Coaches and the Universal Credit are effectively integrated
- Pilot locally-led career progression interventions