Agenda item

Skills and Employment Update - Presentation


The Principal Economic Development Officer and the Assistant Director (Communities) provided the Committee with a presentation on an update on skills and employment which can be accessed via the link below:

The following points were raised during discussion on this subject:

·         Following a comment from the Chair on the use of acronyms, the Principal Economic Development Officer explained the following:

NEET – Not in Education, Employment or Training

SME – Small and Medium Enterprises (of which there were approximately 250)

SEND – Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

·         An issue was raised in that the presentation mentioned links with Mid Kent College and concern was expressed that North Kent College was missing out. The Committee was advised that Mid and North Kent Colleges had a formal partnership and should a particular training requirement such as construction be needed both colleges would focus on the issue.

·         In relation to apprenticeships in construction skills, Members were advised that both North and Mid Kent Colleges had a strong construction focus. However, the Principal Economic Development Officer undertook to look into this in more detail given that  the relationship with Mid Kent College had been  referenced by the Executive Director of the Lower Thames Crossing project in discussion with a Borough Councillor.

·         A comment was made regarding Apprenticeship take up locally, having improved recently.

·         Following a question from a Member about the availability of financial assistance with the costs of gaining CSCS cards, for job seekers looking for work in the construction sector, the Principal Economic Development Officer undertook to look into this matter and to email the information to Committee members. The officer added that there were funds available via Work Coaches and also through the Job Centre but it depended on the status of the applicant.

·         The Chair felt that a Construction Skills Academy was an excellent idea as was the physical focus on advice and support and it would be great to see it located in Gravesham. The officer advised that it was an objective and every stakeholder had identified this as a potential requirement given the scale of demand for construction skills associated with the numerous major infrastructure and other projects due to take place in North Kent. However, most colleges were reluctant to take on an additional site. A good starting point would be if the Borough Council could identify a site but the question of who would create a business case, build the academy, manage it etc would need to be resolved. The officer explained that the North Kent Skills Group had recently discussed putting together a two page proposal to excite interest in a potential Construction Academy, in an effort to start a conversation about the prospects for such a facility.

·         A comment was made that there was fragmented provision across the Borough and a holistic approach was required to connect all the pieces to enable the Council to build on what was already available.

·         A comment was made on the need for the Borough Council to be a conduit of communication with regard to all aspects and officers were asked to explore how to become more critical in communicating change and with targeting local school sixth forms.

·         The Chair considered that Members should also play a role and asked them to give some thought on how everything that had been discussed could be factored into the Economic Stimulus Policy as it was a unique opportunity to assist the Borough following the pandemic with regard to communication.

·         The Principal Economic Development Officer undertook to share details of the school engagement contact with the Committee.

·         Disappointment was expressed in the scope of the Lower Thames Crossing project to involve young people of the Borough in that they only intended to liaise with a couple of local schools.

·         The Senior Economic Development Officer explained that the Lower Thames Crossing team had a dedicated Schools Engagement contact and had produced a detailed schools engagement plan earlier in the year, a copy of which had been provided to the Council and did appear to take on board some earlier critical feedback from Members. Given the priority for schools engagement in relation to skills, which had been expressed by Members previously, some focus had been given to this.

·         The Chair suggested that representatives of North Kent College and Lower Thames Crossing be invited to a future meeting of the Committee to talk about how they are priming local young people to be involved in major projects in the Borough.

Resolved that he report be noted.

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