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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet - 3rd November 2014

 

Report of the Leader

 

Youth Employment in the Vale of Glamorgan

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To receive an update on the Council’s approach to the employment of apprentices across service areas and ways in which the approach could be extended through working with other authorities and/or the use of Jobs Growth Wales placements.

Recommendations

1.         That Cabinet note the issues and the options as set out in this report.

2.         That Cabinet approve the continued progression of exploratory discussions with Caerphilly Council (as set out in paragraphs 29 - 40) to pursue a partnership approach to the employment of apprentices.

3.         That Cabinet refer the report to Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committee for information and updating.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To continue to make progress in relation to meeting the objectives set out in the 
Corporate Plan (2013-2017) and the Corporate Workforce Plan (2013-2017).

2.         As above.

3.         To ensure that Corporate Resources Scrutiny members are appraised of development in relation to the use of Jobs Growth Wales placements in view of previous information requests in this area.

Background

2.         When considering the Council’s responsibilities toward supporting young people into employment there are a number of options that could be considered, including providing Jobs Growth Wales placements within the Council and providing further apprenticeship opportunities. 

3.         It is important to clarify what the Council needs to provide, and consider the good work that has already been established, in order to agree the most effective course of future action.

4.         The Council’s Workforce Plan identifies the need to “ensure the workforce reflects the wider community across the Vale of Glamorganâ€.  Additionally, “with an increased emphasis on ‘localism’ we will need to promote employment opportunities from within the local labour market and specifically promote the Council as a potential employer for school leavers setting out on their careersâ€.

5.         Statistics compiled at the close of 2013/14 financial year show that 35% of Council employees were over the age of 50 and 13% of employees were under the age of 29.  This compares to figures reported in the Corporate Workforce Plan where, in 2012, 33% of Council employees were over the age of 50 and 14% of employees were under the age of 29.

6.         An effective review of our approach to the employment of apprentices will therefore help to:-

·               Improve opportunities to achieve a proportionately younger workforce through
improved youth employment and apprenticeship opportunities.

·               Reduce the NEET population in the Vale of Glamorgan, which in 2013 formed 3.8% of leavers for schools in Wales (reduced from 5.6% in 2009) (Source: Careers Wales Pupil Destinations from Schools in Wales).

7.         These areas of focus need to be considered within the wider context of the Council’s Reshaping Services programme, which will undoubtedly result in significant changes to the existing workforce and subsequent job losses across the Council services.

8.         Consideration also needs to be given to potential changes in Welsh Government funding that will be available for both apprenticeship schemes and Jobs Growth Wales placements in the future.

Current Provision with The Vale of Glamorgan

9.         Over recent years the Council has progressed a range of initiatives to increase the employment of young people and in so doing has contributed to the reduction of youth unemployment within our communities.  Such initiatives have included actively promoting and supporting work experience placements, apprenticeships and Trainee posts within the Council.

10.      The Council regularly provides work experience opportunities across our services, helping to promote the organisation as a potential employer for school leavers.  These short, unpaid placements are primarily made available, through Careers Wales, to school children within the Vale of Glamorgan.  In 2014 12 pupils were supported in such placements across a range of Council services.

11.      The Council also has an established Foundation Modern Apprenticeship (FMA) programme, delivered by a local Work Based Learning Provider which has been in place for over 10 years. The current provider is Acorn Recruitment Limited.  The programme provides office-based apprenticeships across the Council and has been highly successful in helping young people to achieve ongoing sustainable employment. Over the last 10 year period the Council has appointed approximately 120 such apprentices. 

12.      There are currently 30 FMAs being supported in office based positions across the Council.  They receive a work placement for 65 weeks and are initially paid (through Acorn) £82 per week. This amount can rise to £195 per week, dependent on length of service and age. During their apprenticeship they are supported by Acorn to complete their Level 2 QCF (formerly NVQ) qualification in Business Administration.  In 2013/14 94% of the apprentices achieved their nationally recognised qualification, and 68% found ongoing employment. The cost of such apprenticeships is mainly met from individual directorates with some support from the Corporate Training budget.

13.      The provision of Foundation Modern Apprenticeships is currently limited to office-based positions; however the Council also supports a small number of craft apprentices within the Housing and Building Section.  This programme has supported two apprentices every year for the last 10 years, working closely with local colleges. The annual intake is dependent on service need and budget (albeit with a small subsidy from the Corporate Training budget). The scheme has gained a degree of national recognition over recent years with individual accolades for some of their apprentices.

14.      Both of the above schemes attract apprentices mainly from within the Vale of Glamorgan area; a principle which needs to continue as part of the development of the employment of apprentices.  The cost of both approaches is shared i.e. the cost of the employment being met by the Council and the training costs being met by the Work Based Learning Provider.

15.      In addition to the apprenticeships which are directly provided by the Council, there is a significant number of training and work experience places provided by our partner organisations; as a result of contract clauses implemented by the Council e.g. the WHSQ Housing Contract includes a requirement to appoint one new apprentice for every £1m of the contract value.

16.      In addition to the above, a Jobs Growth Wales Mentor has been appointed within the Barry Cluster Communities First Team to co-ordinate placements and further encourage engagement for residents from this community with the scheme. The Jobs Growth Wales Mentor works closely with Babcock International training company in providing this scheme and has placed nine residents into employment opportunities, with a further five other live vacancies waiting to be filled, in this financial year.

17.      Finally, the Council have, over recent years appointed a number of corporately funded Professional Trainees in a variety of services, such as Finance, Human Resources, Equalities, Arts, Communications, Property and ICT. Individual services also continue to fund specific trainee posts, some using external funding to support this ongoing recruitment e.g.  Social Worker Trainees funded by the Social Care Workforce Development Grant (SCWDG).

18.      As can be seen there has been significant work undertaken across the Council in relation to the recruitment of apprentices. There are, however a number of potential gaps in relation to the approach to date.  As previously indicated the current provision mainly supports office based placements and doesn’t cover the full range of occupations across the Council’s services. It also suffers from a lack of strategic co-ordination (and resource management) in terms of the links between different schemes and approaches.

Jobs Growth Wales

19.      Jobs Growth Wales is a Welsh Government funded response to the unemployment levels experienced by young people across Wales.  The programme provides six month job placements for unemployed young people, aged 16-24, who are paid at National Minimum Wage. 

 

20.      The aim is to enable individuals to remain in or progress into sustainable employment, or where appropriate, an apprenticeship. Job opportunities need to be ‘additional’ posts to the employer’s current establishment and require a specific job description and contract of employment. 

 

21.      The advantage of using JGW is that it is a funded programme, supported by Welsh Government, which helps develop employability skills, by providing practical work experience for the young person. 

 

22.      The programme does, however, have clear limitations.  A level of commitment is expected from the employer to provide on-going sustainable employment for the individuals following their placement, and further allocation of placements is subject to the employer meeting agreed targets in this area.

23.      The scheme also requires a significant investment of time and support from managers and their teams, for a relatively short placement (i.e. 26 weeks) with potentially limited return on this investment if on-going employment opportunities are not available.

24.      Apprenticeship schemes and Jobs Growth Wales placements are used to different extents across other local authorities in Wales with mixed experiences. Some authorities have not achieved the outcomes that were expected e.g. Merthyr Tydfil had some initial engagement with the scheme, but with less than 25% of their placements resulting in sustainable employment opportunities, and only 4% finding employment within the Council, they are not intending any further engagement with the scheme.

 

25.      Successes in relation to the Jobs Growth Wales initiative in the public sector have mainly been reported where it has been used as part of a blended approach, e.g. both Rhondda Cynon Taff and Caerphilly use the placements as part of a broader delivery package, alongside work experience placements, apprenticeships etc., to find the most suitable employment path for those involved.

26.      There is no strong evidence of usage elsewhere in other Welsh local authorities with some actively having chosen not to engage with any provision in this area.

The Possibility of a Blended Approach

27.      As indicated above, one of the potentially best examples in Wales has been found in Caerphilly Council who have developed an extensive ‘Passport’ Programme in response to the need to provide training and employment opportunities for young people within the borough. 

28.      The programme has been developed by Caerphilly Council (a team of 8 FTE) in partnership with the Caerphilly Local Service Board, in conjunction with Caerphilly Council officers, Gwent Police, Aneurin Bevan Health Board, Caerphilly Business Forum and the Voluntary Sector, as well as working with local private companies to provide a joined up solution to support young people into employment across the whole region.

29.      The target audience for the programme is those young people, aged between 16 and 24, who have been unemployed for less than 26 weeks and are therefore not yet engaged in the Work Programme. 

30.      It is based on a three tier model (Appendix 1) which begins with an initial assessment of the individual’s employment needs, followed by a two week employability support period (basic skills, CV preparation, job search support). This then continues through to a further eight week unpaid work-placement to assess their suitability in the workplace, while the young person continues to receive their existing benefits. The initial diagnostics period enables the team to establish the needs of the individual, whilst also identifying any potential barriers they may have to employment. 

31.      This is followed by a six month Jobs Growth Wales placement, after which the person will continue either into full time paid employment, or alternatively, if appropriate, into an apprenticeship within the Council or with a selected local employer. 

32.      To date Caerphilly has received 670 referrals to the scheme, although of these, 263 subsequently didn’t engage with the programme following the initial diagnostic period. They have established 240 Jobs Growth Wales placements across the County, of which 149 have now completed.  Of these 57 found ongoing employment with Caerphilly Council, 53 found external employment, four moved into full time education, five completed the programme early and 30 found no ongoing form of employment.  Therefore the reported success rate for the scheme is just under 80% of participants entering ongoing employment or further education. 

33.      Additional key successes identified from the individuals from an independent evaluation process include improved employability through developed job searching skills and other job specific development, more confidence in presenting themselves for employment opportunities, and improved basic skills levels, all mainly cited to the level of dedicated support that the programme provides to the young people.

34.      With £977,000 funding, accessed from a variety of sources, and with special dispensation from Welsh Government for an agreed allocation of Jobs Growth Wales placements (with inbuilt flexible terms relating to the allocation of such posts) the scheme has proved highly successful in the first 18 months of it being run.

35.      Exploratory talks have been undertaken with the Passport Team at Caerphilly and there is an opportunity to further investigate the possibility of a partnership approach with them, to introduce and adapt the model within the context of the Vale of Glamorgan, whilst securing the existing good practices that already exist. This would be achieved through an “out-posted†Passport Support Officer – working within the Vale Council but with access to the wider infrastructure of Caerphilly’s Passport Team.

36.      Based on the tentative discussions with Caerphilly Council this would involve the diverting of part of the existing corporate training budget (up to £15,000) which is currently used for FMAs and related issues. This amount from the corporate budget would be reduced by any modest contributions from the Learning and Skills Directorate to support the NEETs (and wider youth unemployment) agenda. The contribution would be match funded to support a seconded Passport Support Officer subject to meeting the funding requirements of WEFO / DfES.  Placements secured as part of the Passport Scheme would remain on the payroll of Caerphilly Council.

37.      This partnership arrangement would, therefore require no additional funding but would have potentially significant benefits as set out in this report.

38.      Clearly there is a need to fully explore the implications of this approach (including funding issues) before commitment is sought and a further report will be submitted to Cabinet should approval be needed to progress the matter.

Options and Way Ford

39.      There has been lots of progress in the development of employment opportunities for young people, but to take this forward there are a number of options for consideration, within the context of the changing environment that faces the Council over the coming years:

·               Option 1

Continue with the existing provision of Foundation Modern Apprenticeships for office-based positions (whilst recognising the associated limitations).  As indicated, this option can be pursued, but does suffer from a number of weaknesses as outlined in paragraph 20.

 

·               Option 2

Develop the use of Jobs Growth Wales placements on an adhoc basis (alongside the existing provision).  This is a possible option, but there is a higher level of investment required by managers, with a limited return on this investment without a co-ordinated approach.

 

·               Option  3

Broaden into a Council-wide approach incorporating both Jobs Growth Wales placements, as well as further developing the apprenticeship programme.  This option would require the full funding of a FTE position within the Vale of Glamorgan, in order to develop a model of delivery which can be adopted across the authority.

·               Option 4

Partnering with Caerphilly Council to develop a 'Passport Programme' within the Vale of Glamorgan. A match funded secondment FTE would be required to work with the existing Caerphilly Passport Team, in order to deliver their proven model across the Vale of Glamorgan. This will maximise the return on investment with the advantages of a co-ordinated approach, with a breadth of coverage using Caerphilly’s existing infrastructure to support the delivery.  Any barriers to DfES/WEFO funding will need to be fully resolved as part of any further discussions with Caerphilly.

 

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

40.      The resource implications associated with the above options are as follows:

·               Option 1 - No additional resource implications beyond existing budgets (see paragraph 37 above).

·               Option 2 - Further research will be needed in order to identify the additional resource requirements with such an ad hoc approach. As indicated above there would be a concern about the cost/benefit for the organisation of such an approach.

·               Option 3 - It is estimated that such an approach would require a dedicated FTE Grade F resource (approximately £29,175) to take on board the contract responsibility plus the client side provision i.e. for HR employment support and internal training provision as required.

·               Option 4 - As indicated above this approach would require the diverting of approximately £15,000 of existing resource as match funded resource for the secondment of 1 FTE into a Grade 6 ‘Passport Support Officer’ position in Caerphilly Council.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

41.      There are no sustainability and climate change implications.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

42.      The legal implications relating to a partnership arrangement with Caerphilly would be assessed following the further development of exploratory discussions. It is expected that the employment contracts for any apprentices and Jobs Growth Wales placements would reside with Caerphilly Council.

Crime and Disorder Implications

43.      There are no crime and disorder implications.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

44.      The Passport Programme is a positive action programme, designed to support a specific group of young people who have been identified as having particular barriers in terms of career opportunities, work experience, training and development.

Corporate/Service Objectives

45.      Workforce Plan 2013 – 2017 Key Action 30.

46.      Corporate Plan 2013 – 2017             CL14, CL15, LS8, LS14, LS16

Policy Framework and Budget

47.      None.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

48.      None.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

49.      Corporate Resources.

Background Papers

None.

Contact Officer 

Helen Scarrett - Corporate Training and Organisational Development Manager

 

Officers Consulted

Reuben Bergman – Head of Human Resources

Andy Borsden – Lead Officer Youth & Community Learning

Nisha Shukla – Youth Engagement & Progression Officer

Emma Smith – Principal Officer, Business & Employment (Work Programme, Economic Development)

Colin Davies – Manager, Barry Communities First Cluster Team

 

 

Responsible Officer:

Reuben Bergman, Head of Human Resources, The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

 

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