Sustainable, rewarding employment for all (II)

21 November 2016

There has never been a more interesting and challenging time for Greater Manchester, as we work to create a prosperous and inclusive employment and skills landscape that benefits all residents and businesses across the city region.

Greater Manchester has a long and proud history of innovation and leadership, and our ambition is to see this great city-region not only at the heart of a thriving Northern Powerhouse but also leading the way as an exemplar of what can be achieved through a dynamic, integrated and inclusive work and skills system which recognises that with better skills comes improved employability, increased productivity and a better quality of life.

Our ambition is clear: we want all our residents to be in a position to achieve their goals through productive, fulfilling employment with skills at the heart of their personal and professional development, whether moving closer to joining the labour market, entering the world of work for the first time, or progressing in their careers.

To deliver our vision for Greater Manchester, we need our young people to leave the education system with the knowledge, skills, and attributes needed to succeed in the labour market. We need working-age adults who are out of work and/or who have low levels of skills to be able to access the skills and wider support needed to enter and sustain employment. There must also be a focus on in-work progression and up-skilling, particularly in our priority growth sectors, not only to help progress careers but also to develop a pull-through effect in the system which will open up opportunities at entry level for those who are currently struggling to get a toe-hold in the labour market.

We face a dual challenge of, on the one hand, supporting economic growth, recognising that developing, attracting and retaining a skilled workforce is a prerequisite for such growth and, on the other hand, reforming our public services, particularly those which support residents in moving towards and into work. Greater Manchester’s ground-breaking devolution agreements with government provide a unique opportunity to deliver our ambitions and to join up work and skills activity with other public services such as health and transport.

Alongside the opportunities presented by the devolution of Greater Manchester’s health service, we must also harness the potential of locally commissioned activity, such as targeted support for those who are furthest from the labour market, capitalising on the fact that ‘good work is good for your health’ and offering early assessment and bespoke support. Pilot programmes have proven to be effective both in terms of impact and lessons learned, but these need to be significantly scaled up at pace to deliver the impact needed, with lessons learned from the wide range of activity underway.

Whilst the task is complex, Greater Manchester’s Work and Skills Strategy retains at its heart a very simple concept: delivering an integrated and inclusive work and skills system which truly meets the needs of our employers and residents.

Gemma Marsh, Director of Skills and Employment, Greater Manchester Combined Authority

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