Creating local systems of employability support

New research has argued that local government should have more powers to help tackle persistent unemployment.

The Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) and the NLGN argue that greater devolved power to councils would help tackle long-term unemployment much faster, with 98 per cent of councils thinking that employment and skills provision should be locally commissioned.

The research claims that 80 per cent of councils are already taking steps to improve employment and skills provision in their area, but 84 per cent believe that budget cuts are the greatest barrier in preventing the delivering of the services that would be most effective.

The two groups also called for a National Learning Network to share best practice on how to tackle unemployment locally, and argue that new data sharing legislation should be introduced to facilitate closer working relationships between all aspects of public service.

Paul O’Brien, chief executive of APSE, said: “Devolutionary goals of better employment and fairer regional and city economies will not be achieved if we ignore the employability and skills of people in our local areas. To truly rebalance the UK economy, we need local people capable of moving into the new and emerging jobs market.

“Local councils are uniquely placed to understand their communities. By placing local councils at the heart of employability we can maximise the opportunities for our residents, and our local economies”.

Jessica Studdert, deputy director of the NLGN, added: “If we are serious about successfully tackling persistent unemployment, we need to give councils more power over how services are organised locally. They are best placed to know what skills local businesses need and link individuals to local opportunities.

“Our research shows that local government has a huge appetite to do more, and that there is existing business support for this. The national model of fragmented provision and accountability between government departments is falling short in communities. It is time that responsibility and resources are devolved to create a system that secures jobs for people.”

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