Creativity on Job Creation
We need to come up with an inventive programme for creating jobs and training young people; as such there are several ideas I would like to pursue. The first is an audit of current hiring practices to determine why local companies aren’t taking on local talent. Preliminary conversations suggest it would be relatively easy to equip Southwark’s young people with the skills local organisations say they need but struggle to find. Once we have more evidence of the problem, we will be asking local supporters to invest time in application support, interview practice and careers mentoring for their younger neighbours.
The second is brokering relationships directly in the form of Jobs Fairs and Speed Networking events, local work experience programme, on building both the confidence and networks of young people and CV surgeries. I’d like to build on these positive initiatives by seeing if they can be combined with the brilliant example of Future First which has found that some of the most powerful messengers to transform young people’s aspirations are people who attended the same school as them coming back to talk about their journey into work and success. Perhaps a programme which combines sector specific ‘taster evenings’ with local business leaders talking about routes into their fields with these kind of peer-led events would give us the best of both worlds.
The third idea is the formation of a local work experience hub. My hope is that by convening local colleges, businesses, charities and the council, we will be able to better coordinate what is already there, spot big gaps in provision and get people to pool resources effectively. For example, if several organisations are taking on local apprentices at once, it would make sense for those young people to be trained together in transferable skills like project and time management. Common provision is also a good carrot to secure common standards – if we help companies out by bringing their training costs down, we can make their participation conditional on paying the living wage and having no unpaid internships. Likewise, this hub could signpost young people elsewhere: for example, instead of relying on payday lenders, we could ensure that every young person knows about the local credit union if they need help with a loan for new work clothes or a travel card.
Over time, I’d like us to be even more ambitious still and pilot a full youth employment service. Schemes like OnPurpose combine meaningful work experience with accredited training so that its associates “graduate” with way more than just a reference. There is no reason the council couldn’t coordinate a group of businesses to offer intensive placements while convening FE providers to deliver modules tailored for that cohort.
At the end of 2 or 3 years, young people who choose this learning “on AND off the job” route instead of university could be assessed and get a graded result, just like their HE peers.
Each of these ideas might make a difference, and there are plenty more out there. For me, the key is not which particular scheme gets picked up, but that we are willing to experiment at all. If we are serious about regaining the public’s trust we need to show that we’ve not just thought about how to use the levers of power, but have practical examples of what can be achieved.