EMPLOYER ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY
The Government's Green Paper "Towards Full
Employment" and the White Paper "Opportunities
for All" identify key roles for the Employment Service/Jobcentre
Plus, Learning and Skills Councils, Regional Development Agencies
and others to work together to achieve the goal of full employment
for all. Jobcentre Plus and its Pathfinder Districts have been
tasked with developing a robust local employer engagement strategy
in consultation with its partners.
An effective employer engagement strategy must be
developed within the context of Jobcentre Plus and build on what
employer activity is already taking place. If this strategy is
to succeed it must be more "demandled", with service
to employers at the very centre. By its very nature, a demandled
approach engages employers in the design and delivery of recruitment
and preemployment training measures, and uses their experience
of hiring personnel to define programme requirements and assess
the basic standard of jobreadiness.
Birmingham and Solihull has many past, current and
emerging examples of successful collaborations and forged partnerships
with key employers and developers, some of which are illustrated.
Birmingham and Solihull District Working in Partnership
with Key Stakeholders
The District has and is playing a leading role in
partnership working with key stakeholders for public, community
and commercial gains. These include the establishment of a Birmingham
Employer Coalition, and developing a sectorised employer engagement
strategy along the lines of the "Business on Board"
New Deal Task Force recommendations.
Services have been developed to support several major
recruitment exercises, including the development of Touchwood,
Solihull Town Centre, and the new Bull Ring, Birmingham City Centre.
Other projects include GAP, Rover, Birmingham International Airport,
Dunlop and Breed Steering. Many of these projects have involved
setting up Job Shops on employer premises to help with their recruitment
and redundancy issues. In the case of Rover alone the District
provided assistance for over 1,000 of their affected employees.
Birmingham Employer Coalition
The Birmingham Coalition is one of 10 coalitions
established in most conurbations around the country, and is part
of, and answerable to, the National Employment Panel (previously
the New Deal Task Force). The Birmingham Employer Coalition has
been established for around four years, having originally been
a local New Deal employer forum.
The original role of the Coalition was to act as
a "friendly critic" of New Deal and other Governmental
employment programmes, making sure that what the New Deal partnership
was delivering was meeting the needs of local employers.
The Birmingham Employer Coalition is chaired by Mike
Beasley, Managing Director of Jaguar Cars, with Paul Toomer, a
secondee from Jobcentre Plus filling the role of Coalition Director.
Membership covers engineering, manufacturing, the police, the
Local Authority, IT, hospitality, printing and the voluntary sector.
The key operational objectives for the Birmingham
Employer Coalition for 2002-03 are supporting Jobcentre Plus to
implement the key recommendations of "Business on Board",
assisting in the design and delivery of "Ambition Sector
Initiatives" (as described in Section 2 of Business on
Board), increasing access and outcomes for disadvantaged clients
(particularly ethnic minority clients) and reviewing membership
of the Coalition to ensure appropriate representation.
The Birmingham Employer Coalition is currently supporting
a number of projects. These include an engineering industry recruitment
project funded by the New Deal Innovation Fund, a small
medium enterprise recruitment project, close working with
the Scarman Trust to help medium enterprise clients currently
outside the social welfare system, and an ethnic minority recruitment
project to match jobready clients to vacancies within bluechip
Business Development Managers (Local Account Managers)
One of the most effective ways of engaging employers
at a local level is through a sector strategy which is demandled.
Within the District we have established a small team of sectorspecific
Business Development Managers (or Local Account Managers). These
mangers work closely with employers, delivery partners, Jobcentre
Plus managers and staff to satisfy employer and business needs
for the recruitment of suitable workers, through demandled
approaches, facilitating the development of customised training
routeways, where appropriate.
Since its formation in September 2001, the Business
Development Team aims to provide a high quality, professional
account management service at local level that strengthens employer
participation in the New Deal: Next Phase and increases the number
of opportunities and successful job outcomes for our most disadvantaged
City Strategic Partnership
Local Strategic Partnerships are being set up around
the country. For those areas that receive Neighbourhood Renewal
Fund allocations, like Birmingham, the Local Strategic Partnerships
must show that they are working with an effective partnership
to qualify for the money in the next two years. In Birmingham
& Solihull (who have not yet set up Local Strategic Partnerships)
a core group has been established, and referred to as the City
Strategic Partnership. This has representatives from 12 key agencies/sectors,
including the District Manager for Jobcentre Plus.
The aim of the partnership is to bring together at
a local level (ie within the local authority boundary) the key
public services with representatives of the business, voluntary
and community sectors to improve local services, particularly
in deprived neighbourhoods.
The City Strategic Partnership has the responsibility
of producing the long term vision for the area (the Community
Strategy); directing Neighbourhood Renewal Grant to achieve improvements
in employment, health, housing and environment, education and
crime; developing Public Service Agreements; and coordinating
the work of other partnerships.
The City Strategic Partnership is developing relationships
with other citywide strategic
partnerships that have specific responsibilities
such as Lifelong Learning or Economic Development; and will also
relate to a network of more local partnerships across the city.
The shape and membership of these area based partnerships have
still to be agreed, and will be influenced by the outcome of the
City Council's consultation on local decision making structures.
In addition to the citywide and local partnerships,
the City Strategic Partnership has begun work to engage business
interests; and the community and voluntary sectors. The latter
work is being led by Birmingham Voluntary Services Council on
behalf of the City Strategic Partnership, and will focus on setting
up a Community Network and the using of the Community Empowerment
Fund to support active participation in the work of the City Strategic
Employment and Training Strategic Partnership
Reporting to the City Strategic Partnership, the
Employment and Training Strategy Group has been formed to further
the employment, skills and learning objectives of Birmingham &
Solihull. Its objectives are aligned to that of the Framework
for Regional Employment & Skills action, as developed by the
Regional Development Agency.
Chaired by the Executive Director of the local Learning
and Skills Council, and with Jobcentre Plus District Manager representation,
the group meets monthly. Other key representatives include Directors
of Economic Development for both Birmingham and Solihull Local
Authorities, the Chamber of Commerce, the Voluntary Sector Forum
and lead private sector delivery partners, Pertemps and Reed plc.
The aim of the group is to close the equalities gap
in employment, skills and learning attainment for ethnic minorities
and other disadvantaged groups. Interagency cooperation
and actions to develop sector strategies, cultivate inward investment
opportunities, workforce development and planning, area and community
regeneration and overcoming barriers to employment and training.
Welfare to Work Operational Management Group
The Birmingham Welfare to Work Operational Management
Group, is a newly established strategic partnership group reporting
to the Employment and Training Strategy Group. Its purpose is
to oversee the implementation of Welfare to Work in Birmingham,
ensuring that the work of partners is coordinated towards
successful implementation of all the initiatives within the Welfare
to Work Programme. Our aim is to make sure that people who are
able to work but not currently working are appropriately targeted
and fully supported in moving into and maintaining permanent employment.
There is also a Solihull Welfare to Work Strategic Partnership
Group chaired by Jobcentre Plus.
Employment and Training Strategy Group lead on demand
strategies to deal with employer recruitment in Birmingham. This
forum is the primary vehicle for coordinating and planning
the arrangements for delivery of Welfare to Work across Birmingham
and Solihull, including the implementation of New Deal: Next Phase
and the partnership working arrangements to be established by
the Jobcentre Plus.
The group has three prime areas of work to fulfil.
These are Planning of good quality, accessible and fully coordinated
Welfare to Work initiatives, effective Performance Management
of initiatives within the Welfare to Work Programme, and efficient
and timely Communication with partners at all levels within and
between partner organisations.
Access to Employment Groups
Jobcentre Plus is leading the development of Access
to Employment Groups within Birmingham. These are designed to
be the local joint planning and coordination forums through
which the Employment Strategy Group will seek to develop effective
and seamless employment support and progression services which
are responsive to 'supply side' issues and the specific needs
of unemployed people in key target communities.
Activity is focussed on PSA Target Regeneration Areas
and key wards with highest unemployment and include: Handsworth/SRB6
(Handsworth/Soho wards); North Aston (Aston ward and neighbouring
areas); South East Birmingham (Sparkbrook and Sparkhill wards);
Nechells/Heartlands (Nechells, Washwood Heath & Small Heath
wards); South West/Outer Estates (Kings Norton and West Northfield);
and Central (Ladywood and Edgbaston wards).
Aims and Membership
Through the improved local coordination Access
to Employment Groups whose membership mirrors the Employment
Strategy Group we will seek to collectively deliver services
which have a significant and lasting impact on the progression
into employment of individuals, and which secure over time reductions
in differential unemployment rates in key communities. A central
element of Access To Employment Groups membership will be local
community (and other) organisations with a clear service delivery
role. Local providers will therefore be key participants, as will
relationships and linkages with other local (planning) forums,
including City Council Constituency Strategic Partnerships and
Ward Advisory Boards, Local Area Inclusion Partnerships, Regeneration
Zones/Area Boards and their thematic groups.