Survey of boroughs' employment services 2022

  • By Inna Yordanova

In February 2022, London Councils surveyed boroughs about their employment and skills services.

The survey showed that the vast majority of London boroughs (91%) provide a local employment support service. On average, boroughs’ estimated annual budget for employment services was £1,538,826 – over half a million more than their budget in 2020 (£949,103). However, it varied between £135,000 and £5.3m. Boroughs identified Section 106 (75%), core council spending (68%) and the European Social Fund (ESF - 68%) as key sources of funding for their employment services.

In terms of staff, on average boroughs employ 25 people, with one borough employing three and another employing 70 staff members. The number of people using borough employment services annually also ranges significantly between 225 and 6,000, with an average of 1,200.

There was a significant 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 £35,393,000 on their employment services, employ 683 staff members and support 44,274 Londoners. This is substantially higher than the numbers reported the previous year showing that boroughs have worked to scale up their services. This is likely in response to the rising unemployment caused by the pandemic, as well as the skills and labour shortages London’s labour market is experiencing now.

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 (96%), employment advisor (96%) and support to improve skills (93%). There is a correlation between boroughs’ budget for employment services and the number of people accessing the service each year, as well as the number of staff employed by boroughs. This suggests that the increased budgets reported in the last year led to an upscaling in staff and greater capacity to deliver services to more residents.

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

The vast majority of London borough officers (89%) 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 (88%), working with employers to fill vacancies in growing/resilient sectors (84%) and adjusting careers advice and guidance to connect people with in-demand jobs (80%).

Most London boroughs also continue to engage with the government’s Plan for Jobs in response to the pandemic. The most common elements of the Plan adopted by boroughs included Kickstart (86%), Sector Based Work Academies (71%), apprenticeships support (61%), Youth Hubs (57%) and WHP JETS (54%).

No Wrong Door, good work and top priority services

Most London boroughs (87%) have been involved locally or sub-regionally in developing a ‘No Wrong Door’ approach. Examples include closer interaction with adult learning providers and employers (74%), multi-agency employment and skills hubs (59%), digital platform to guide people to the right services (56%) and hosting JCP and other services within borough teams (44%). This suggests that work to expand the ‘No Wrong Door’ approach across London should build on existing local activity.

Most boroughs (87%) also adopted measures to promote good quality working practices at a local level via their employment services (85%), by promoting the London Living Wage (85%), promoting the Mayor's Good Work Standard (70%) and using the borough's procurement policy to promote good work (70%).

Four in five (84%) of the boroughs surveyed said that their Adult and Community Learning Service (ACL) is linked to their employment service, while two-thirds (68%) said they provide skills support to residents in addition to the ACL service. These links between employment and skills services appear strong but may need to be strengthened further given the impact of the pandemic and the structural changes within some sectors of London’s economy.

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, supporting residents into growing and priority sectors, tackling economic inactivity and labour market inequality, and encouraging employers to provide good quality working practices.

Read the full results here.

Inna Yordanova, Principal Policy and Project Officer