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Local Approaches to Employer Engagement

Background

In late 2013 representatives from a range of Local Authorities, Skills Development Scotland and DWP came together to identify ways in which the public sector could develop a better coordinated approach to employer engagement. From these initial discussions is was clear that all parties recognised there were a number of examples of 'good practice' across the country, but that building a shared perspective around collective coordination would constitute a significant improvement.

Issues cited by delivery partners can be grouped under key headings as follows:

  • Complication - system complexity, lack of understanding amongst employers about what support is available and where to go for it.
  • Competition - between, and even within, delivery organisations - often as a result of the way in which services are funded to deliver specific outcomes
  • Co-ordination - some efforts have been made in relation to co-location and coordination of services, but further work is required to make these more effective
  • Communication - confusion around who does what, roles and responsibilities and disconnect between services, particularly national and local delivery.

Discussion then followed around the appropriate objectives of a more coordinated approach. All attendees present agreed that these should include:

  • Better cooperation, coordination and communication, and sharing of information
  • Agreement of a common purpose, which is more than co-location of services
  • Better understanding of who does what and where the potential overlaps and gaps lie
  • Combined public sector effort, to make engagement easier for employers
  • Understanding the employer perspective around issues such as business growth and sustainability

Current good practice

Discussion followed around what had been cited as example of good practice across Scotland, but in all the key elements of 'good practice' seemed to be around the level of coordination and partnership when working with employers. Employers have fed back that they simply want one person or a single place with which to engage on employability matters.

It was agreed that, for different communities of interest, good practice could mean different things e.g:

  • For employer-facing organisations = supporting business development and growing the jobs base
  • For employability organisations = bringing in as many vacancies as possible
  • For unemployed people = doing better for job seekers, particularly those more disadvantaged

…but it was also recognised the balance of these could well be different in different areas.

Pilot Activity

In response to this discussion a number of areas agreed to map out their existing activity across Local Authorities, DWP and SDS with a view to tackling some of the issues outlined above.

(local case studies still to be uploaded - please check back later)

You will see from each of these short reports that by February each area had approached and completed this mapping work in a similar fashion, with three of the four keen to work towards an 'any door' or one stop shop approach.


Key learning points:

  • Proactively sharing information on employer engagement activity reduces duplication and helps highlight gaps in activity
  • In practice there was minimal overlap between agencies and services, and where there was overlap of engagement it was often for different reasons
  • This exercise significantly increased partnership working and communication around this agenda
  • Regular and ongoing exchange of information between front line staff is critical