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


The Knowsley Deal—a briefing by Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council


  Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council is now two years into a far-reaching and innovative package of financial and training measures to give real hope to young unemployed people. To date 220 young unemployed people from Knowsley have benefited from the "Employment Option" of the initiative—designed to give every young person an opportunity to train for permanent employment.

  Knowsley has invested more than £400,000 of its own resources over the first 18 months of the programme, with a further £300,000 until 2002. The Council has also built an £80,000 Estate Team Depot to act as a base for a further 16 New Deal trainees and a supervisor concentrating on the development of a country park in Halewood, under the Environmental task Force option of New Deal. Minister Andrew Smith visited the Park recently to open the centre officially, and commented that it was "the best New Deal facility" he had seen.

  Young people are appointed to designated trainee vacancies within the Authority, into six-month fixed term posts that have been identified specifically for New Deal trainees. The Council has named its approach to the initiative "The Knowsley Deal".

  Everything within Knowsley's approach to the New Deal has been designed to ensure that the individuals needs are taken into account, that they are working in the most suitable environment and that they are given every opportunity to enhance their employability. This approach benefits the young people themselves, and provides the Council with a previously untapped resource, bringing diverse skills and abilities into the workplace, which can be developed and utilised, to the full. Extra support has been given to trainees with literacy and numeracy problems, homelessness, debt, bereavement, benefits and other issues that arise as a result of being unemployed.


  The Government requirement for organisations employing New Deal trainees is that they work towards an approved qualification, such as NVQ in addition to work experience. The Knowsley Deal provides its trainees with much more than this with a specialist in-house personal development training programme designed to:

    —  enrol young people into the work ethic

    —  empower young people to make positive choices in their own life, to be accountable and positive

    —  increase self esteem and confidence

    —  establish a sense of belonging, both in the workplace and in the community

    —  develop communication and assertiveness skills


  Given the large numbers of trainees that the Council recruits, the programme is supported by a New Deal Team, comprising a New Deal Manager, two New Deal Training Managers, an Administrative & Training Co-ordinator, and an Administrative Assistant (who is an ex-trainee on the Knowsley New Deal).

  The team is aware that the cornerstone of the New Deal trainee's experience at Knowsley is that they are all treated as individuals and that their specific needs are met. This includes providing intensive support on an individual basis, for example to coach a young person to come in to work on time every day, assisting with problems around housing and debt and talking through relationship difficulties.

  In August 2000 the Team joined forces with the Council's Managing Agency team, responsible for Knowsley's delivery of the Environment Task Force option of New Deal. Now the combined team, managed by Tracy Fishwick, delivers the same innovative approach to all ETF trainees.


  The relationship that trainees have with their direct line manager is crucial. The training and development programme, therefore, starts with Knowsley managers. All managers who are about to welcome a trainee into their work area participate in a two day "coaching and mentoring" workshop, specially designed to enable them to develop trainees to their full potential, delivered again by Youth at Risk. Managers gain additional support through this approach, as they meet up regularly to share issues and ideas and learn new ways of approaching problems.


  To date, the Council has appointed 220 New Deal trainees in a wide range of jobs: rangers; clerical assistants; IT; street cleansing; finance; personnel; construction; social care; storekeeping; and many more. 140 trainees have secured real jobs mostly with the Council and nine of these have left for work elsewhere, and probably couldn't have done this without the assistance of the Knowsley Deal Programme and the confidence and experience that it has helped to develop in the young people.


  Other success factors are worth reporting here too:

    —  an even higher retention rate (up from 80 per cent to 94 per cent) since the introduction of the personal development approach (which included the Council accessing the services of the voluntary agency, "Youth at Risk")

    —  an average rate of 75 per cent in terms of trainees moving on to jobs or another positive outcome

    —  the involvement of every department of the council

    —  the impact on the lives of trainees and the future social benefits

    —  the value of being involved so closely in the social objectives of the Council has proved very rewarding for some line managers

    —  the day to day involvement and support of Members has helped develop a real sense of pride in the achievements of New Deal

    —  a real example of direct intervention in youth unemployment in the area.


  The Knowsley Deal has been a great success and continues to go from strength to strength. The Council is currently part way through recruiting up to a further 40 young people between September 1999 and March 2000, with annual programmes recruiting approximately 100 thereafter. In addition, the Council has recently transferred management of its New Deal Environmental Taskforce project (160 places available through seven sub-contractors) to the New Deal Team in recognition of what it has achieved with the employment subsidy option.


  The innovative approach to New Deal and to personal development training has gained much attention from other organisations—the DfEE; Industrial Society; the LGMB; and the New Deal Task Force Public Sector Group (who will be featuring the programme in their best practice guide). Members of the New Deal Team have been invited to an event at the House of Lords, aimed at raising the profile of the work of Youth at Risk—the organisation that co-delivers the personal development aspect of the Programme.

  The Knowsley New Deal has recently won the "Personnel Today Excellence in Training Award" and was also a finalist for the "IPD People management Award" The New Deal Team has also recently won Top Team 2000 Award in "Local Government and the Office of Public Management Award".

Trades Union Congress

November 2000

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