Select Committee on Education and Employment Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from London Borough of Newham and Partners


  1.1  Although claimant unemployment in Newham is now the lowest it's been since the Docks closed in the early 80s, there are still over 9,000 claimant unemployed with the third highest claimant unemployment in London.

  1.2  Three years ago Newham Council set up an Access to Jobs partnership to work on a joint strategy to help residents access employment opportunities, by identifying employers' recruitment needs, by finding out where the skills mismatch is and to then draw up a joint plan of action.

  1.3  The partnership comprises:

    East London Partnership (Employers' representative)

    Employment Service

    Futures Careers Service

    London Borough of Newham

    London East TEC

    Newham College of FE

    Newham Sixth Form College

    Stratford Development Partnership

    University of East London.

  1.4  The partnership set itself four key objectives:

    —  to identify and respond to employers' recruitment needs;

    —  to equip local people with the skills needed to get jobs;

    —  to ensure effective job guidance and placements services;

    —  to provide support and development for people in low-paid/unskilled work.

  1.5  The information in this submission relates to the work carried out in relation to the first and third objectives.


  2.1  Towards the end of 1999 the Council's Regeneration and Partnerships Division surveyed 100 local companies focusing on recruitment and training issues. We asked whether employers recruited staff who were unemployed and their opinion of the skills and attitude of unemployed people. We are still analysing the returns but key issues for local employers are emerging as:

    —  qualifications, vocational or otherwise, are not seen necessarily as a key indicator of an individuals worth. Employers put more emphasis on experience gained through work;

    —  employability skills are of key importance to business. These include good literacy, numeracy and ICT skills, first class communication/team working skills, the ability to learn on the job and work flexibly. Several employers have agreed to discuss their concerns in depth and this will feed into a detailed action plan.

  2.2  This feedback from employers has led the Access to Jobs partnership to review its training provision in order to more adequately reflect employers' training needs. Employability skills are being stressed in vocational training, work experience is being increasingly built into training provision and an "employability certificate" is being developed with voluntary sector training providers. This will provide a testament for employers around key issues of attitude that can be tested throughout a training course, for example, good attendance, meeting targets/deadlines and team working within the training course.

  2.3  Many SMEs fill posts using informal methods, eg word of mouth through existing staff members. This acts as an extra barrier to the unemployed, particularly the long term unemployed and black and minority ethnic unemployed people who often find themselves outside of such informal networks. Outlined below are two measures being taken to ensure that these informal vacancies can be brought into the mainstream.


  3.1  The Council and the Employment Service have set up an employment agency specifically for the construction industry. It is in premises funded by the Council near the major construction sites. It is staffed by the Employment Service and has the LMS vacancy system on site. The Council makes the first contact with contractors through Section 106 agreements or through planning applications and then introduces the ES staff to identify recruitment needs.

  3.2  The success is evident from the figures. In January 2000:

Clients on database
Clients into work in January
Clients into work since April 99

  When the project started three years ago all these clients were unemployed and many probably still would be unemployed without the DRC.

  3.4  A recent satisfaction survey carried out by the partnership with employers revealed that 96 per cent of employers rated the service as Excellent, Good or adequate and the same percentage will use the centre again and would be willing to recommend other employers to use it.

  3.5  Reasons for success:

    —  the clear benefits to all parties—the private sector can recruit the staff they need free, the Council helps its residents into work and the Employment Service meet their targets;

    —  a real commitment from the contractors which is not just lip service;

    —  systems for sharing knowledge about new developments and therefore potential jobs. The advance planning is crucial as it allows us to work with training providers to put on training to meet the employers' requirements;

    —  dedicated staff, seconded to the centre, who really get to know the industry and talk to contractors on a knowledgeable basis;

    —  screening and matching clients according to employers' requirements and not sending unsuitable clients along;

    —  a willingness to go further—if there is nobody suitable on the books then trying neighbouring areas. If there is still no one suitable then honesty with the employer about the reasons for this and alternative proposals;

    —  the project has been so successful that we are now developing a similar model for the hospitality industry—notorious for its recruitment difficulties.


  4.1  The Access to Jobs group has set up two local Into Work centres. They are designed to target specific unemployed groups as outlined below and to place them into employment.

  4.2  One centre is a joint initiative with the voluntary sector. There are over 30 small voluntary and community groups providing vocational training in Newham. For unemployed people, with negative memories of learning, it is often their first step on the route to skills acquisition and employment. Many of the trainees are unemployed and on part-time courses.

  4.3  An umbrella voluntary group called Newham Training Network (NTN) co-ordinates the training groups and arranges work experience for their trainees. The Council has encouraged NTN to set up an Into Work Centre[5] to use their employer contracts and the feedback they get from employers to place these trainees into employment. Due to funding difficulties, this has taken some time to happen but is now on target to open in April 2000. The Employment Service has agreed to support the project and is exploring whether it can put its LMS system there.

  4.4  The second centre, the Beckton Into Work Centre, is run jointly by Newtown College of Further Education and the Employment Service. It is funded by the Council and is based in one of the Council's Local Service Centres. Its target group is twofold: one group is the people who casually drop into the centre to access Council services who are unemployed or who want a better job. The centre is co-located with the Youth Service so many young people drop in too. The second target group is the people who have completed courses and are looking for work, these include adults who have completed courses at the nearby adult education centre and people who are on the New Deal. They have almost reached their target of 200 people into work by the end of March.

  4.5  One of the characteristics of this Into Work Centre is that it does not raise the expectations of employers by blanket canvassing for jobs to display on boards on the off-chance that someone suitable will drop in. Rather, they identify the needs of the job seeker and cold call employers, based on local knowledge, for vacancies. We are aiming to move towards a situation whereby the centre workers will know their employers so well that the employers will begin to trust the centre and will leave "standing vacancies".


    —  clarity about specific target groups;

    —  focused provision tailored to the need of the particular groups—both job seekers and employers;

    —  use of existing resources where possible;

    —  joint planning between key partners;

    —  focused short job preparation/job search training curriculum for all clients;

    —  centre feeds back to training providers on the quality of clients that they are putting forward, allows providers to amend/make course more relevant to employers needs.

Other Good Practice Examples


  5.1  This pilot scheme has been identified as a case study by the Audit Commission in their recent review of Urban Regeneration.

  5.2  The work with housing officers came from a recognition that there are residents in Newham that either through lack of information or interest do not access employment and training opportunities through the traditional ways of attending college/seeking professional career guidance. It also was a reflection that many Council service staff that interact with the public are a key regeneration resource. The pilot scheme used two local housing officers dealing with rent arrears, they were chosen as it was felt that if their clients were able to access work they would be more likely to pay their rent and reduce their arrears, a clear "win win" for the council between wider regeneration concerns and self interest.

  5.3  The housing workers received training from Access to Jobs so that they could provide advice/guidance and were provided with laptops loaded up with the ATJ web site, providing full information on training and advice on childcare and benefits. Additionally, the Careers Service provided workshops in the housing offices for tenants identified by the housing officers. Over the period of the pilot 100 tenants were contacted, 30 were given advice and signposted to the Careers Service and 13 moved onto training or employment.

  5.3  The pilot scheme is being reviewed and is to be extended across the borough's housing stock. Discussions are being held with Social Services to see if a similar pilot can be developed with social work teams.

  5.4  An article about the project in Newstart magazine[6] has elicited 6 enquiries from around the country from local authorities and tenants' associations.



  6.1  A new international exhibition centre is being developed in the Royal Docks in Newham, ExCeL which it is estimated will create 1,000s of jobs within new and existing businesses that will support the centre and the 2.3 million people that will be attending the 120 exhibitions per year organised within the centre.

  6.2  ExCeL have recognised the benefits of a well motivated, skilled local labour force and are working with the Council and partners to ensure that local residents can develop the necessary skills. One element of this work is the Pre-Employment Training. It is based upon a successfully developed model created for the Dome. The training is modular, focused upon customer care and hospitality, builds in key skills and is tailored to the needs of the exhibition industry.

  6.3  Modules will include: ExCeL Induction (the ExCeL way), Tourism/Hospitality Training (Welcome Host, Welcome All, Welcome Line and Welcome International), Managing Health and Safety at Exhibitions and Events First Aid CV, Job Search and Communications and Customised Training modules based upon particular elements of the exhibition industry. We are currently working with ExCeL to work out ways of guaranteeing job interviews to all who complete the course. Other local employers have now expressed interest in the proposal.


  7.1  This network brings together training providers and local employers to discuss and exchange information on training in order to make future training provision in the borough more business friendly and relevant to SME needs. It also acts as a communication between employers where by best practice can be shared and the benefits of a well-trained workforce can be explored at the bottom line, profits.

  7.2  An outcome of the Employers' Training Network's. The Training Directory which gives outline advice for employers on training opportunities to upskill their staff through short industry focused training courses.

  7.3  The work of the network is due to be expanded from influencing general training provision to developing more specific customised training linked to job growth areas. The work with ExCeL is a specific example of job growth as a result of a new industry setting up in the area, other examples include work with London City Airport, this originated around basic and employability skills but is being expanded into customised specialised training around airside ground crew staff and modern European languages.


  8.1  Studies have shown that many of Newham's residents are in low paid, low skilled employment. It is recognised by the partners that an increasing area of work will be to develop pathways within work as well as pathways into work. Much effort and expenditure has been given to getting the unemployed in a position of being employable, but unless these individuals can be sustained and supported into careers rather than employment, many if not most will find themselves unemployed again when the economy down turns.

  8.2  Access to Jobs partners are therefore looking at developing ways to provide this second step. Already a project has been developed by the Six Form College that offers guidance and training to young people in their first job with the aim of keeping participants in work and helping them to progress in their careers by providing a networking and advice event.

London Borough of Newham and Partners

March 2000

5   The Centre opened in May 2000. Back

6   16 June 2000 issue. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 7 February 2001