Greenwich Council

Agenda item

Cabinet Member for Economy, Skills and Apprenticeships - Portfolio Update

To note the Cabinet Member (Economy, Skills and Apprenticeships) portfolio update.

 

 

 

Minutes:

The report was introduced by the Cabinet Member for Economy, Skills and Apprenticeships who confirmed she was a board member of the Centre for Local Economies Strategies (CLES)  who lead on community wealth building and provide good practices for local businesses to place them in good positions to bid for Council procurement. She confirmed that her portfolio fell principally under the Corporate Plan’s theme of ‘Economic Prosperity for All’, and added that delivery of this work was highly reliant on securing and managing external funding.

 

She highlighted that to date the Council had established four skills centres which were the Digital, Hospitality and catering skills, Equestrian and horticulture and Construction sectors adding there was likely to be an increase of capital funding in some of these areas.

 

With regards to apprenticeships the Cabinet Member advised that the Council now employed apprentices directly and was committed to providing support and paying the London Living Wage. She added the target was to have 174 apprentices on-programme however, this was challenging as some of the current apprentices were recruited under the old process.

 

The Cabinet Member advised the Panel on the Highways Improvement Local Labour Scheme (HILLS) which had been mainstreamed as a result of its success. She added that the Greenwich Local Labour Plan was funded through to 2018/19 and continuation of the services was being reviewed as part of the council’s budget setting process with funding likely to reduce.

 

With regards to Digital Greenwich, The Cabinet Member confirmed they would be looking for a new Headquarters and would be moving away from the offices at Mitre Passage. She described the key achievements for Digital Greenwich in 2018, which included securing funding for a free ride service using autonomous vehicles that would initially be piloted in Thamesmead.

 

In response to questions, the Cabinet Member confirmed that the Council do not employ staff under Zero Hour Contracts and encourage employers in the Borough to follow suit.  She added that GLLaB received some offers to recruit for zero hour contract employment and these went through a testing phase to ensure these offer employment protections..

 

The Cabinet Member stated that the possibility of the Woolwich Barracks closure would not have severe impact on the local economy as the Ministry of Defence do not procure much locally, the main impact would be on retail.

 

In response to questions on the new IKEA store, the AD Employment and Skills confirmed there were no zero hour contracts and all staff would be paid the London Living Wage or above. She added that at least a third of the new jobs in the store would be filled by local people and there were currently over 100 offers, through our own monitoring, but IKEA compiling final figures. .

 

Panel Members requested information on how Section 106 funding secured from IKEA had been used to improve air quality in the area.

Action: DRES

 

In terms of unemployment rates in the borough, the Cabinet Member advised that they were reducing and converging with the London average. She added however that job growth had considerably slowed down with housing and population growth increasing at a faster rate.

 

The Panel requested that comparative data with London Boroughs be included in future reports.

Action: AD Employment and Skills

 

The Chair shared data collated by the Trust for London which showed that unemployment in Greenwich was the 3rd highest out of the 32 London Boroughs and that 41% of 19 year olds did do not have a Level 3 qualifications or equivalent. The AD Employment and Skills explained there had been changes to level 3 funding with a move towards adult loans which had resulted in a lower uptake in young people. She added that the Apprenticeship Levy was expected to improve the figures however, this was not ring-fenced to young people. The Cabinet Member Economy, Skills and Apprenticeships added that she was working closely with the Cabinet Member for Children and Schools to tackle the issue and implement and informed approach.

 

In response to a question, The Cabinet Member for Economy, Skills and Apprenticeships stated that the vacancy rates in Eltham Town Centre was below average when compared to other High Streets in the Borough. She added there were larger issues around Town Centre vacancy rates and refurbishments and requested assistance from Panel members on any ideas.

 

The Panel noted that an Economic Development Strategy was currently in draft form and requested that it be presented for pre-scrutiny prior to being formally adopted.

Action: AD Employment and Skills

 

The Panel requested performance targets and comparative figures on the Council’s spend with local businesses.

Action: AD Employment and Skills

 

In terms of the Council’s Business start-up service, the Panel requested the figures on uptakes.

Action: AD Employment and Skills

 

The Panel requested that future dates for Traders forums be circulated to all Councillors.

Action: AD Employment and Skills

 

The Panel was addressed by the Chair of Speak Out Woolwich, who stated he supported the work of GLLaB in helping people into work however questioned whether its funding contributions, received as part of Section 106 funding, was disproportionate compared to other recipients and whether it represented Value for Money.

 

The AD Employment and Skills confirmed that the Annual Section 106 report contained the funding that GLLaB received each year. That the figures varied from year to year and formed an important part of the business model.

 

The Panel requested a breakdown into the cost of running GLLaB including the unit cost per job recruited for.

Action: AD Employment and Skills

 

In response to questions, The AD Employment and Skills confirmed that the GLLaB externally funded programs were consistently and top performing borough in the sub-region and the strong track record, has been a key success factor in securing external funding.

 

The Chair thanked Officers.

 

 

Resolved –

 

That the report be noted

 

 

 

 

 

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