This Friday 26 June is National Employability Day. It’s a chance to reflect what my team at the West of England Combined Authority is doing to support our residents who may be facing uncertainty over their livelihoods, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
I want to help businesses and people affected by the immediate economic impact, as well as use this opportunity to lay the foundations for a stronger and more resilient economy in the future.
Skills form the backbone of employability in our ever-changing world. I want to invest in West of England residents to ensure that they have the skills our businesses need, both in the near term as we settle into a ‘new normal’ and well into the future as the world becomes ever more digital and globally connected.
I’ve recently expanded the eligibility criteria for our Future Bright programme, to provide hands-on coaching and careers support for all residents whose jobs have been impacted by the pandemic. This includes those who have been made redundant, had their hours reduced, been furloughed or are self-employed workers. I have been so saddened to see the great progress we’d made as a region in getting unemployment to record lows being undermined by the pandemic. It is therefore only right that this valuable coaching is made available to everybody whose job has suffered as a result.
I’m also pleased to announce that we’re extending our Careers Hub to support 95 schools and colleges with their career provision for young people. This will include engaging them in low carbon and “green” careers. As we strive to offer the best future for our young people possible, it makes sense to ensure the West of England has access to the skilled workforce of the future that it needs to tackle the climate emergency.
I will also shortly be launching a new scheme which helps small to medium-sized businesses to create new training and employment opportunities and will continue to work with the West of England economic recovery taskforce to create other programmes to back businesses, support skills and improve our region’s connections.
On this Employability Day, I see there are real opportunities for us to emerge strongly from this period. Whether it is for those who are returning to work, to upskill, or for those seeking new opportunities to retrain, or start afresh. The West of England is primed to seize this chance.