LGA: Councils need to be at heart of levelling up ambitions

“The Skills and Post-16 Education Bill should be used as an opportunity to tackle our fragmented employment and skills system, with a greater role for councils and employers to help create jobs and training opportunities in their local communities."


Students in classroom

Placing councils at the heart of the Government’s levelling up ambitions would help create job and career opportunities where they are most needed as the nation recovers from the pandemic, the Local Government Association said today.

Calling on government to use the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill to introduce a joined up, place-based employment, skills and careers system, that provides access to quality education and new training opportunities, Cllr Kevin Bentley, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s People and Places Board said:

“The Skills and Post-16 Education Bill should be used as an opportunity to tackle our fragmented employment and skills system, with a greater role for councils and employers to help create jobs and training opportunities in their local communities.

“It is clear that as the furlough scheme is phased out, there will inevitably be a rise in the number of people out of work or training. People will need to reskill for new jobs as we look to recover from the economic impact of COVID-19.

“Throughout the pandemic, councils have consistently delivered for their communities and businesses, coordinating employment, training and business support for their local areas. Knowing their communities best, they are uniquely placed to bring all partners together to create greater opportunities for those who are unemployed and help achieve our shared ambition with government to level up across the country.”

The LGA is also calling for more funding to help adults with lower qualifications improve their skills levels so they fare better in a more competitive labour market post pandemic, getting more people into jobs.

Cllr Kevin Bentley, continued:

“The Adult Education Budget has been critical to helping people and should be restored to 2010 levels so councils can provide the best possible support.

“Central government’s priorities cannot be delivered without a partnership with local government. With the right funding and freedoms, councils can help Government achieve its ambitions for our national recovery from the pandemic and equip people with the skills they need to succeed so no one is left behind.

“There are undoubtedly challenges ahead, but by working together locally across the sector, councils and combined authorities have the passion and expertise to rise to the challenge.”

Calls for a greater role for councils to tackle unemployment and skills shortages come as exclusive LGA polling reveals that 58 per cent of MPs and 80 per cent of Peers support more freedom for councils to drive employment and training opportunities in their local communities.


Case Studies

Devon County Council

The County Council had to respond rapidly to the collapse of one of the region’s biggest employers, Flybe, as well as the other economic impacts bought on by the pandemic. They swiftly set up a redundancy support team, aimed at being the ‘joining glue’ for local support, including linking recently redundant workers to training support, through both the adult education budget and a £750,000 fund to provide training focused on transition to growth sectors.

London Borough of Hounslow

Based in West London, Heathrow Airport acts as one of the borough’s main employers. However, due to the changes in global travel, many staff were furloughed or made redundant. The council worked closely with the local NHS Trust and other healthcare providers to move those displaced from Heathrow into temporary work in a sector with a growing number of vacancies.