Skills boost for businesses thanks to county council initiative

THE job prospects of hundreds of East Sussex residents have been boosted thanks to a county council initiative.

Last summer East Sussex Council County launched its Employability and Skills Strategy in a bid to ensure that people in the county have the skills that businesses want and need. The strategy is a key to supporting wider economic growth in East Sussex.

A year on and council chiefs are celebrating its success and planning ways to increase opportunities for county residents.

“Building a workforce with relevant skills and training is vital to encourage new investment in jobs in the county, and to ensure existing businesses can continue to thrive,” said Cllr Rupert Simmons, the authority’s lead member for economy.

“It is imperative that businesses work with universities and colleges to shape the curriculum and ensure education and training results in the appropriate knowledge and skills to suit industries. The creation of East Sussex Employability and Skills Partnership Board – Skills East Sussex – has allowed us to work closely with partners to achieve this. Further encouragement is for businesses to work with our schools to encourage aspiration for the jobs that are growing in East Sussex.”

The council’s strategy has three main aims; to boost local employment and skills among contractors carrying out work for East Sussex County Council, providing experience through its own training and recruitment processes and working with partners to improve the employability of residents throughout the county.

Over the last 12 months, the initiative has encouraged contractors to create 21 apprenticeships, 785 hours of work experience and 100 hours of on-the-job training.

The authority spearheaded the five-month You’re Hired East Sussex Campaign which smashed its target of creating 500 apprenticeships across the county – generating 699 work opportunities for young people.

The county council also strengthened its own apprenticeship policy; recruiting an apprenticeship programme manager, running a work readiness programme and pledging to employ a group of apprentices three times a year.

A ‘Jobs Hub’ pilot resulted in 190 careers sessions and 1,250 informal careers advice sessions being offered to local people at Eastbourne Library, and plans are in the pipeline to extend this across the county.

“We are making great strides in improving the employment opportunities for hundreds of residents, particularly our young people,” Cllr Simmons added.

“We will continue to work with experts in our key sectors – engineering, construction, health and social care, digital and media – training and education providers, and other partners to ensure unemployment in East Sussex continues to fall and our economy continues to grow and thrive.”

Plans for the next year include;

• Adding traineeships and internships to the county council’s apprenticeship programme

• Rolling out aspects of the Jobs Hub pilot across the rural parts of East Sussex

• Continue to work closely with business partners to identify opportunities for ensuring schools, colleges and universities are providing the skilled young people that the county needs

The county council also wants to ensure that high quality and employer-led careers advice and guidance are available across the county. To achieve this research has been carried out to identify the skills needed for growth industries within the county.  The reports will be used by careers advisers and education providers to ensure the relevant training and qualifications are available.