Local jobseekers are set to benefit from a new partnership between Southampton City Council and the Department for Work and Pensions fuelling employment support in the area.
The last few months have been incredibly difficult for businesses across the whole of the UK – and Southampton is no exception. Despite the furlough scheme, many companies have had to let some of their staff go, or put expansion plans on hold. Organisations have had to think about working differently and acquiring new skills. Some, sadly, have had to close altogether.
For Southampton, this has meant a rise in unemployment and economic hardship. But we’re determined that this should not last. As part of our approach to addressing it, Southampton City Council has entered into a new partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that aligns national programmes and initiatives with our local needs. Crucially, that includes the staffing and talent needs of Southampton’s businesses.
Southampton is the first unitary council to enter into this kind of partnership agreement with DWP. The aim is simple: to support Southampton’s businesses by increasing opportunities and by supporting unemployed Southampton residents to move into sustainable jobs.
The partnership will use local information and data to give Southampton City Council an opportunity to develop proposals for DWP to fund. This will enable the delivery of innovative employment support activities to key target groups and/or areas in the City.
This is a new model of local partnerships where DWP is working with local authorities to improve sustainable job outcomes for local residents. We are also making sure it aligns with the City’s strategic framework set out in the Corporate Plan to 2025, the Green City Charter and the emerging Economic and Green Growth Strategy.
How this can help businesses
Through the partnership, Southampton City Council will source funding to deliver more targeted work to improve job outcomes for residents. Individual programmes will deliver specific results but crucially, we want local businesses to tell us what they need so that we can access the right funds to make this help a reality; whether it's retaining talent, attracting the right staff with the right skills and qualifications or improving access to reskilling and upskilling opportunities. The new partnership can address these challenges and help resolve them.
This initiative is the first example of how the new partnership will work. Southampton City Council identified that young people’s employment prospects have been hit harder than most by the COVID-19 pandemic and that support for them was often confusing and fragmented.
Southampton City Council and DWP are co-funding a new Youth Hub to support young people into employment – in a way that is useful to them. The Youth Hub will be a coordinated one-stop-shop of both physical and online support for those aged 16-24 and unemployed.
The Kickstart initiative is a national initiative but through our new partnership we can direct the scheme in the most useful way for Southampton. Kickstart is part of a £2 billion national fund to create hundreds of thousands of high-quality, 6-month work placements for young people aged 16-24, who are currently claiming Universal Credit.
We’ll be looking to develop more initiatives in response to local needs as they are identified.
Leader of Southampton City Council, Councillor Christopher Hammond, said: “The challenge ahead is significant. As a country, we face the fastest and deepest recession in over 300 years. The pandemic has not only restricted our usual economic activity, but it has also accelerated structural changes at a phenomenal pace. We’re mobilising to put local peoples’ needs first in the recovery and addressing deprivation, inequality and disadvantage, which unfairly holds people back from fully realising their potential.
"The partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions will help us deliver targeted support to our residents. It will help us build upon our strong foundations for future opportunities and attract quality jobs to the city.
"Southampton is a city to be proud of. We can build back an economy which is greener, fairer and healthier for everyone. This new partnership is one of the building blocks in helping us to do just that.”
John Paul Marks, Director General, Work and Health Services at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said: “This exciting new partnership will transform the lives of local people. By working with the Council and pulling in the expertise of local colleges and training providers, we can deliver the tailored support that the city’s unemployed need in a more effective way, so they can find work sooner.
"Not only will this help them and their families but, collectively, this will help the whole of Southampton to prosper.”
Minister for Employment Mims Davies MP said: “This has been a challenging time for many people in Southampton but with the roll out of the vaccine, hope is here. We are proud to be joining forces with the City Council to deliver employment support based on local community need - helping residents into sustainable jobs through this exciting ground-breaking partnership.
"Our DWP Plan for Jobs is continuing to help people back into work across the UK and supporting jobseekers to get the skills they need for new sectors as we level up opportunity and build back better.”
Please listen to the recorded event on YouTube.
There are a range of opportunities for local businesses to get involved in skills and job related schemes that DWP are sharing with us, which we are keen to discuss with local businesses. Sign up to Business News for more updates on this.