Plymouth call for more control of training funds post Brexit

Plymouth could take back control of key funding pots to help retrain its young and long term unemployed after Brexit.

The city should call on the Government to better target funding where it is needed – to help residents who have been out of work for a long time to gain new skills and help Plymouth’s young people to get key qualifications.

The proposals are part of the recommendations being put forward to the Council’s Cabinet in a report by the Brexit, Infrastructure and Legislative Change Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which was set up in May to help Plymouth better prepare for Brexit.

Chair of the Committee, Councillor Jonny Morris, said: “This committee was set up to better prepare the city for Brexit – in whatever form it takes. We wanted to come up with answers about how Plymouth can deal with the impact.  

“Even before Brexit, we are seeing vacancies in key areas such as construction, manufacturing and care services, in the health and hospitality sectors and in our growing hi-tech industries, so we need to prepare and support Plymouth people to fill those roles. This is not an instant change.

“Plymouth has over 13,000 people receiving Employment Support Allowance – many who have spent significant periods out of work through ill health. With more funding redirected to support people to get back on their feet and retrain, they can start to fill the job roles in sectors which will have gaps.”

There are also calls for more ‘flexibility’ to use funding to help Plymouth’s young people get more support with the qualifications they need to get their first step on the jobs ladder.

Councillor Jon Taylor, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills said: “Every year the city spends £2 million on Maths and English retakes. We would like to see if we can use that money in a different way to provide extra support to pupils earlier.

 “We also want to use funding we already have more flexibly, so that we can improve the performance of our secondary schools in science, technology, engineering and maths and to support our plans for an apprenticeship or skills hub.”

“In a post-Brexit Britain, with increasing automation, we want Plymouth people to have the skills we need to build a prosperous future that will leave no one left behind.”

The committee has been looking at a wide range of issues including the city’s fishing industry. As well as submitting its consultation to the Government’s Fisheries White Paper, it has helped submit a bid through the Marine Management Organisation to support a fishing development officer for Plymouth.

Through the Local Government Association, Plymouth has been invited to the HMRC Border Steering Group, which is aiming to support a network of key port cities.

Some facts and figures from the report

  • Six per cent of people employed in social care are European Economic Area migrants
  • Plymouth Manufacturing Group say that some of our larger employers have a workforce which is up to 35 per cent migrant labour
  • Manufacturing vacancies have increased by 20 per cent since the Referendum – there is already intense competition for labour in this sector
  • Construction – vacancies rates increased by 40 per cent. While there is a pipeline through Build Plymouth, but this may prove inadequate to meet need.
  • Tourism – skill shortages in supervisory roles, wages in the hospitality sector are low so immigrants are unlikely to qualify for visa. People could potentially be retrained from retail sector if we had local control of skills priorities – Plymouth is anticipating it will need around 2,750 staff to meet Mayflower 2020 demands.
  • Social care – The Home Office recently announced that there will be no restriction on doctors and nurses who can be employed through the Tier 2 visa route. National data from December 2015 suggests that 93 per cent of NHS trusts were experiencing staff shortages and 63 per cent had recruited from outside the UK most commonly the EU. In the social care sector, the majority of applicants come from the EU.
  • University of Plymouth activities are worth £468m to the Plymouth economy (in terms of output generated) and supports the equivalent of nearly 5,000 FTE jobs in the city of Plymouth. Students contribute 27,400 hours of voluntary public service and inject almost £120m to the local economy.
  •  There is an ageing domestic workforce and Plymouth needs to develop a domestic workforce with right skills to replace those who are due to retire. Strong demand for labour is not currently matched by labour supply, which has been affected by abrupt slowing in the growth rate of EU nationals coming to the UK