As part of our LEP Q&A series, we speak to Jude Knight, Social Inclusion Lead, Employment and Skills.
Jude is currently with the Humber LEP, seconded from York, North Yorkshire & East Riding Partnership; to lead on the LEP social inclusion strategy and will be working hard to remove the barriers to employment and build inclusive communities within our region.
What is social inclusion and how does this affect the Humber region?
In every society there are people groups who confront barriers that prevent them from fully participating in the political, economic, and social life of their community often due to stigma, and stereotypes linked to gender, religion, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability status amongst other things.
Social inclusion is about breaking down these barriers, empowering and up-skilling people and creating opportunities for everyone to engage on an equal basis.
Within our region, Humber LEP is working hard to ensure we have an economy that works for everyone. Using the funding at our disposal and the power of collaborative working, the LEP is supporting people to overcome personal barriers, provide relevant training opportunities to improve employment prospects and creating local employment opportunities through engagement with the business community.
What work are you doing to improve social inclusion in the Humber?
As we write our Local Industrial Strategy, we will work hard to ensure that it works for the good of everyone in our society. The Humber LEP has already committed £19m to help over 12,000 people up-skill, tackle their personal barriers and move forward with their lives and we will continue to do so moving forward.
Locally devolved ESF funding allows the LEP to create a variety of locally tailored projects to support people at various stages of the journey towards work. We’re also committed to empowering the voluntary sector to deliver right in the heart of our ‘hardest to reach’ communities through projects such as Community Grants and Community Led Local Development.
How has your involvement with the Humber LEP helped?
Although I have worked for YNYER LEP for some time, I only joined the team at Humber LEP in April. Already I have been busy getting to know our local stakeholders and partners and becoming more familiar with the local issues and opportunities.
I’m also working to ensure the LEPs offer is delivering well and offers a good suite of initiatives to meet local need. Collaboration between our stakeholders is key to this and Humber’s ESIF lead providers are fantastic at working together to ensure all ESF funded projects are focussed on the communities they were designed to support. It’s also important that our ESF delivery is aligned with other non-ESF funded projects to avoid duplication of effort. That’s a big job, but again we are grateful to our skills and voluntary sector partners for their collaborative approach across the region which allows us to support our communities in the most effective way by sharing information, joint working opportunities and best practice.
In recent months Humber LEP and YNYER LEP have been working closely to consider the local need in the light of the fast changing political and economic environment. We’re extending some of our successful projects and are planning new ones. These include a specialist project to support our ex-offender community into work, a project to up-skill those closest to the job market with the vocational skills employers need to fill vacancies and a potential Women in the Workforce project as a local response to tackle the ongoing gender pay gap and encourage aspiration across our region.
What more can be done to help?
Together with our stakeholders and partners, we’re working hard to ensure the potential workforce is suitably qualified and as ready as possible to provide the economy with the skills it needs to grow and thrive.
There is a fantastic pool of talent available to business but those looking for work often struggle to convert that talent into sustainable employment. With the lowest unemployment figures since the mid-70s it’s getting harder for businesses to recruit and we’re keen that businesses don’t miss out on great talent through out-dated recruitment and working practices. Using open recruitment practice – making sure recruitment is open and fair for all candidates, including those from different backgrounds – helps employers reach the widest possible pool of talent and makes good business sense. Businesses report that employees who have already overcome personal hardship bring a fresh sense of perspective, go the extra mile, stay with their employer longer and have lower rates of absenteeism.
Many of our stakeholders have developed resources to support businesses fill vacancies and tap into new sources of talent. These include:
- ‘See Potential’, a step-by-step guide produced by DWP about open recruitment
- This Ability developed by Talent Match Humber on behalf of Humber Learning Consortium, Job Centre Plus Disability Confident, PADD, The Humber LEP, Hull CCG and East Riding CCG working in partnership to help young people into employment in the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership area. This Ability also gives the local business community a single point of reference for information, advice and guidance and supports businesses become Disability Confident employers.
- Disability confident scheme, developed by DWP and designed to help employers recruit and retain disabled people and people with health conditions for their skills and talent.
As we develop more local resources, we will ensure they are publicised through the Humber LEP Skills Network, our social media channels and on our website.
What can I do to help?
If you’re part of an organisation that supports people up-skill and move into work, we’d welcome the opportunity to partner with you through the Humber LEP Skills Network. The Skills Network brings together key agencies, stakeholders and delivery partners that provide leadership to the employment and skills agenda in the Humber. Quarterly meetings are used to cascade information about the skills plan and provides a forum to meet and share information and good practice.
For more information or to sign up for future network events contact firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are business who would like broaden the scope of your recruitment to include a more diverse workforce, the Humber LEP Skills Pledge provides opportunity to engage with the wider community who are looking to move into or return to employment. Your business could offer work experience, mock interviews and taster days and begin to create a pipeline of talent ready to fill your upcoming vacancies. The Skills Pledge can also help to put you in touch with training organisations supporting that broader talent pool looking to move into work.
How can I get in touch?
Jude can be contacted via the details here.