CABINET CALL: By Coun Nick Worth, deputy leader
It is always good to be ahead of the game, particularly where government is concerned.
For many months now myself and officers from the district council have been working to align more closely qualifications, skills and careers advice coming out of schools, academies, Boston College and The University of Lincoln with what our local businesses require.
Robert Halfon MP Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, in his new year’s resolution has said: “In terms of skills, our ambition is to create a professional and technical education system that puts skills at the forefront of learning, and also ensures that we have the skills that employers need to move forward.”
Careers is an important area of focus after the demise a few years ago of ‘Connexions’ who provided advice to all schools.
That advice is now provided by the schools themselves and while some are relating well with local businesses through provision of apprenticeships, there is clearly an opportunity to better promote our local industries, not just to the young people themselves but importantly to their parents, who rightly have a major influence on their decisions.
With this in mind, South Holland is currently working with businesses in the agri-food and horticultural sectors to put on a special event to promote these industries to parents and young people, highlighting the emerging reliance on highly skilled labour around automation and robotics in particular.
If we get the skills and careers right we will go some way to resolving the longer term issues of our local industries, but right now there is an immediate need for general labour with many hundreds of jobs currently available.
I have been liaising with local employers and different job centres across the East Midlands, where unemployment rates are greater than in South Holland, which is currently around 1% and am currently working with the county council to see if buses can be used in the south of Lincolnshire to help people get into work, as many have no access to a car, particularly relevant in this rural area.
As we start the New Year, the outlook is good if you are looking for a job, as there is plenty of work out there, unemployment is at an all-time low and exporters in particular are flourishing. Happy times? We will see!