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  Agenda Item No.

 

THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (CORPORATE RESOURCES): 11 NOVEMBER 2014

 

REFERENCE FROM CABINET: 3 NOVEMBER 2014

 

C2508       YOUTH EMPLOYMENT IN THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN (L) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – CORPORATE RESOURCES)

 

Cabinet was provided with 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.

 

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

 

The Council’s Workforce Plan identified the need to 'ensure the workforce reflected the wider community across the Vale of Glamorgan'.  Additionally, 'with an increased emphasis on 'localism’ we would 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 careers'.

 

The Council regularly provided work experience opportunities across its services, and had established a Foundation Modern Apprenticeship (FMA) programme, delivered by a local Work Based Learning Provider that had been in place for over 10 years.

 

At present there were 30 FMAs being supported in office based positions across the Council, who received a work placement for 65 weeks and were initially paid £82 per week. This amount could rise to £195 per week, dependent on length of service and age.

 

The provision of Foundation Modern Apprenticeships was currently limited to office-based positions; however the Council also supported a small number of craft apprentices within the Housing and Building Section. The programme had supported two apprentices every year for the last 10 years, working closely with local colleges.

 

Both of the above schemes attracted apprentices mainly from within the Vale of Glamorgan area; a principle which needed to continue as part of the development of the employment of apprentices.  The cost of both approaches was 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.

 

Jobs Growth Wales was 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 were paid at National Minimum Wage. 

 

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

 

Successes in relation to the Jobs Growth Wales initiative in the public sector had mainly been reported where it had been used as part of a blended approach, e.g. both Rhondda Cynon Taff and Caerphilly used 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.

 

One of the potentially best examples in Wales of the blended approach had been found in Caerphilly Council who had developed an extensive 'Passport’ programme in response to the need to provide training and employment opportunities for young people within the borough. 

 

The programme had 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.

 

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

 

To date Caerphilly had received 670 referrals to the scheme, although of these, 263 subsequently did not engage with the programme following the initial diagnostic period. They had established 240 Jobs Growth Wales placements across the County, of which 149 had now been 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. 

 

The Council had been in exploratory talks with the Passport Team at Caerphilly and there was 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,

 

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 was 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.

 

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

 

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

 

The Council had made a considerable amount of progress in the development of employment opportunities for young people, but to move forward had a number of options for consideration, within the context of the changing environment that faced 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 could be pursued, but did suffer from a number of weaknesses as outlined in paragraph 20 of the report.

 

  • Option 2

Develop the use of Jobs Growth Wales placements on an adhoc basis (alongside the existing provision).  This was a possible option, but there was 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 could 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 would 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 would need to be fully resolved as part of any further discussions with Caerphilly.

 

This was a matter for Executive decision

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T the issues and options as set out in the report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the continued progression of exploratory discussions with Caerphilly County Borough Council (as set out in paragraphs 27 – 40 of the report) to pursue a partnership approach to the employment of apprentices be approved.

 

 

(3)          T H A T the report be referred to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) for information.

 

(4)          T H A T a further report be brought back to a future meeting of Cabinet on the outcome of the discussions with Caerphilly County Borough Council.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1&2)  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).

 

(3)       To ensure that Corporate Resources (Scrutiny Committee) Members were appraised of development in relation to the use of Jobs Growth Wales placements in view of previous information requests in this area.

 

(4)       To ensure that Cabinet was kept informed of the outcome of further discussions with Caerphilly County Borough Council.

 

 

Attached as Appendix – Report to Cabinet – 3 NOVEMBER 2014

 

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