Developing the workforce
From building homes to running a development trust, new communities provide job opportunities. However without support local residents may not be able to make the most of these. This is particularly so for those who have low skills, have been out of work for some time or have caring responsibilities.
It is important, from the start of a development, to work with a local authority economic development or regeneration team as they should have knowledge of the local job market, and of relevant local partnerships, FE colleges and other training providers. They will also know about specific initiatives to help get people into work.
Planning for employment needs to be integral to the design of the new development, in particular ensuring that there are good public transport links to major employment sites, whether those are town centre services or out-of-town industrial estates. It is worth liaising at an early stage with large local employers particularly those that run shifts, such as the local hospital, as daytime public transport may not meet their needs and specific provision may be required if use of private cars is to be avoided. Once new residents have begun to move in, it is important to inform them of how to find out about local job opportunities and about the public transport links.
The planning stage will also determine the extent to which the new development provides its own employment opportunities, whether through shops and other services and/or through a local business park.
For organisations involved in managing the development or in supporting the local community there are a number of ways in which they can enhance the skills and opportunities for local people and help people back into work:
Community groups both enhance people's lives through the activities they run and provide opportunities for volunteers. Local organisations such as a local development trust or primary school are also dependent on volunteers to serve on management committees and governing bodies. Appropriate training for volunteers both helps organisations and groups to run more effectively and enables people to improve their skills. The local Council for Voluntary Service or resource centre should be the first stop in finding out what is available locally. Brighton and Hove has a good example of a local resource centre. A local community development or neighbourhood worker can help local groups get going. An easily accessible small grants pot will enable groups to lay on affordable activities.
It is worth exploring whether and what kind of courses could be provided in venues on the development. Community centres, schools and children's centres are all potential venues and FE colleges and other local training providers may already have arrangements for outreach provision which could be brought into the new estate. Such local provision is particularly helpful for residents with caring responsibilities and those who are not confident about travelling to classes at a large college. It can also help people to get to know each other.
Work placements and work experience provide an important route into work. There will be a number of local organisations such as Jobcentre Plus who arrange work placements. It may be possible to provide placement opportunities specifically for local residents.
When considering what jobs a local organisation needs it is worth also thinking about what would make those jobs accessible to local residents. For example part-time jobs that can be fitted around school or nursery. It is also important to advertise such jobs locally.
On-the-job training will help employees develop their skills and is essential if those who have come into the organisation with basic skills are to have the opportunity to move on. It is equally important for organisational effectiveness.
The Academy for Sustainable Communities provides a range of teaching materials, on-line courses, training the trainers and professional development courses to help residents and professionals understand and promote sustainable communities through their work.