London Councils Borough Employment and Skills Services Survey 2022/23

  • By Rohan Gupta

In March 2023, London Councils surveyed London boroughs about their employment and skills services.

The survey showed that the vast majority of London boroughs (88%) provide a local employment support service. On average, a borough’s estimated annual budget for employment services was £1,396,929 – slightly less than their budget in 2021/22 (£1,538,826). However, it varied between £75,000 and £5.4m. Boroughs identified Section 106 (69%), core council spending (48%) and the European Social Fund (ESF - 59%) as key sources of funding for their employment services.

In terms of staff, on average boroughs employ 22 people, ranging from a borough employing one and another employing 70 staff members. The number of people using borough employment services annually also ranges significantly between 230 and 3,200, with an average of 1,533.

There was a slight expansion in the resources boroughs have put into their job brokerage schemes and the number of Londoners they have been serving. In total, London boroughs spend £39,114,000 (in 2021/22 = £35,393,000) on their employment services, employ 660 (2021/22 = 683) staff members and support 15,330 Londoners. However, this is substantially lower than the numbers reported the previous year (44,274).

The most common services offered by all, or most boroughs include access to local vacancies (100%), interview preparation/coaching (100%), help with CV and job applications (100%), employment advisors (97%) and support to improve skills (93%).


Local skills and labour market shortages and the government's Plan for Jobs

Most London borough officers (85%) said that they changed their employment service in response to local skills and labour market shortages in the last year. Many did so by building wider partnerships and networks to strengthen links with local employers (93%), working with employers to fill vacancies in growing/resilient sectors (82%) and adjusting careers advice and guidance to connect people with in-demand jobs (71%). 

Most London boroughs also continue to engage with the government’s Plan for Jobs and other government support. The most common elements of the Plan adopted by boroughs included Multiply (67%), Sector Based Work Academies (67%), apprenticeships support (57%), Restart (43%) and Youth Hubs (43%).


No Wrong Door, good work and top priority services

London Councils and the GLA’s ‘No Wrong Door’ programme tackles the fragmentation of employment and skills provision in London. There are currently a lot of employment programmes delivered not only by JCP/DWP, but also by SRPs and the boroughs. Due to fragmentation of this provision, it’s difficult for Londoners to access the right provision at the right time. The ‘No Wrong Door’ approach attempts to remedy this problem by joining up provision so that there is no wrong door into good work for anyone.

All London boroughs (100%) have been involved locally or sub-regionally in developing a ‘No Wrong Door’ approach. Examples include participating in networks of other employment practitioners (91%), closer interaction with adult learning providers and employers (85%), mapping customer journeys to improve access to services (58%), and developing a digital platform to guide people to the right services (58%). This suggests that work to expand the ‘No Wrong Door’ approach across London is building on existing local activity.

Most boroughs (97%) also adopted measures to promote good quality working practices at a local level, such as promoting the London Living Wage (100%), via their employment services (72%), promoting the Mayor's Good Work Standard (69%), and using the borough's procurement policy to promote good work (69%).

All (100%) of the boroughs with an employment service said that their Adult and Community Learning Service (ACL) is linked, and two-thirds (67%) said they provide skills support to residents in addition to the ACL service.

In terms of key priorities to support residents into employment, London boroughs identified developing a 'No Wrong Door' approach to the delivery of employment and skills services alongside health, housing, and other wraparound support; supporting residents into growing and priority sectors, tackling economic inactivity and labour market inequality, and encouraging employers to provide good quality working practices.

On working with DWP, boroughs reported good working relationships with room for improvement. Priorities included increasing transparency and communication around referrals in JCP, more opportunities for co-design and co-commissioning of programmes and more data sharing between parties. 

Read the full London Councils Borough Employment and Skills Services Survey 2022/23 report.

Rohan Gupta, Principal Policy and Projects Officer - Employment and Inclusive Growth