Edinburgh tackles employment gap with Strategy for Jobs

As the Council prepares to launch its pioneering strategy for jobs next week, we take a closer look at some of the specific elements that will help create growth for the future.

This final post in a series of four, examines the pledge to get at least 10,000 unemployed people into work or learning over the next five years.

Edinburgh's new economic strategy responds to a growing jobs gap - population growth and economic decline mean that by 2018 there could be up to 37,000 more jobseekers in the city than jobs - and is particularly focused on tackling youth unemployment and vulnerable groups.

Helping unemployed people into work or learning is one of four priority action plans in the City of Edinburgh Council 's flagship new Economic Strategy. It sets out three overall targets for 2012-17: to support the creation and safeguarding of 20,000 jobs; to support £1.3 billion of infrastructure investment in the city and to help 10,000 people into work or learning.

The strategy will be delivered using a pioneering 'Whole Council' approach that mobilises every department of the council in job creation and retention. National and local partners including Edinburgh 's business community and further education providers, Capital City Partnership1, Skills Development Scotland2, Jobcentre Plus3, Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, NHS Lothian and local neighbourhood partnerships will also be key partners.

"This is not so much a programme as a co-ordinated response to unemployment by the whole city and all its component parts," said Ken Shaw, City of Edinburgh Council 's Head of Employability and Skills. "That collaborative approach is critical because no one partner or organisation has sufficient influence to drive the development of the economy alone. The work we're doing in terms of employability is win-win, because by improving people's employment prospects, we're providing businesses with the workforce they need to develop their products and expand."

Central to the employability plan is the roll-out of a new 'Integrated Employability Service' that will work with national agencies to provide a "no wrong door" approach for job seekers across Edinburgh . This will involve individual employability projects sharing project management and information management systems to offer a one-stop service to jobseekers, including a central contact centre and web portal.

Another key element of the plan is the development of the Edinburgh Guarantee - an innovative employability initiative to offer a job, training or further education to every child who leaves school in Edinburgh with no future career path. Since it was launched last year the number of young people a year not entering work, training or education in Edinburgh has fallen from 538 to 394, making Edinburgh the fourth most improved of Scotland 's 32 local authorities in terms of youth unemployment. Organisations including Standard Life, BT, RBS, Primark, NHS Lothian and Telford and Stevenson Colleges have made more than 600 offers of support to the initiative, including work placements, apprenticeships, full or part-time jobs, mentoring, training and skills development.

Other commitments in the employability plan include:

● Delivering at least 2,000 positive outcomes a year through funded employability programmes, including early intervention to help newly unemployed people re-enter the workforce

● Providing employability support for regeneration areas and vulnerable individuals, such as those affected by disability or poverty. Specifics include establishing four employment hubs linked to Edinburgh 's four priority investment zones - the City Centre, South East Edinburgh, the Waterfront and West Edinburgh .

● Supporting those in low paid and insecure employment. This includes a commitment by City of Edinburgh Council to introduce a 'living wage' policy (typically at least £7/hour versus around £5/hour for the minimum wage).

● Allocating at least 100 placements through the Executive Skillsbank - established with Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce after the banking crisis to help exiting top executives transfer their skills and investment to growing businesses

● Developing a 'Construction Centre of Excellence' to deliver vocational training for the construction sector. The work is being led in conjunction with Edinburgh 's Telford College .

● Developing a ' National Retail Skills Academy ' in Edinburgh to train recruits for the retail and hospitality sectors. This work is being developed in conjunction with Henderson Global Investors, Stevenson College , Harvey Nichols and others.

"I would urge more organisations to get involved across all sectors to help Edinburgh provide jobs, paid work experience, training or continued education," Shaw said." Joblessness creates major social costs for the whole city4, and tackling this issue head on now will help us lay the foundations for a new phase of growth in Edinburgh over the next ten to 20 years."

A conference to launch Edinburgh 's new Economic Strategy 2012-17 will be held in Edinburgh on 12 September 2012. Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Cities Strategy, and Lord Smith, Chair of the Green Investment Bank, will be guest speakers.

1 Established in 1998 as Edinburgh 's Social Inclusion Partnership, Capital City Partnership is now the delivery body for the city's employability strategy and programme.

2 Skills Development Scotland is Scotland 's national skills body

3 Part of the Department for Work and Pensions, Jobcentre Plus helps people of working age from welfare into work and helps employers to fill their vacancies

4 The Edinburgh Economic Review, the wide-ranging research exercise underpinning the Economic Strategy, found that the lost productivity of unemployment claimants costs Edinburgh around £309m a year.

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