To receive an interim verbal report from the Skills Officer in relation to the development of the Skills Strategy for Exeter. To include key findings from the research and business survey, and to provide an overview of the next steps.
The Skills Officer provided an update on the Skills Strategy for the city as part of the Emerging Exeter Vision up to 2040. It was important to ensure that as part of the Council’s skills ambitions that there was appropriate engagement and dialogue to continue the development of skills and learning, and be able to recruit and retain a suitable skilled workforce. A PowerPoint presentation outlined the work, and included key findings from research and results of a survey of 202 businesses in the city. Information around skills, qualifications and employment had provided the opportunity to update a number of key indicators relating to employment activity. These were used for discussion with key partners and stakeholders to build up a picture of involvement and trend analysis to create an evidence base.
There were a number of trends, including the earnings status, with little disparity between workplace earnings in Exeter of 79.8% (October 2017- 2018) and the national trend of 78.5%; also resident earnings of £529.20 for Exeter (2018) compared with a figure of £569 nationally, a figure borne out by a correlation between the level of daily inward migration of the workforce and local residents. Qualification levels had risen and 51.4% of Exeter residents were qualified at Level 4 and above, and over 50% of the city’s workforce occupations were in professional and technical roles, with over 12% of Exeter graduates remaining in Exeter for work.One other area of interest was a spike in self-employment and a further study would be made to establish whether they were part of the highly qualified bracket of employees in traditional employment or were in contract or consultancy employment.
The Skills Officer also provided detail of the business survey which was conducted by telephone and interviews were broadly in line with the sectional composition.
· 2/3 of business recruited in 2018; (England 50%)
· 48% of vacancies were ‘hard to fill’; (England 33%)
· 1/3 of business identified skills gaps in their workforce;
· 73% said staff would need new skills or knowledge in 12 months;
· 3/4 of staff had some training in past 12 months;
· 20% employing an apprentice; and
· 2/3 had not engaged with school, college or university. (12m)
The survey had shown that most vacant roles were in customer services, administration and skilled trades and reasons for this included skills matching, but essentially it was about there being more vacant positions than people to fill them.
The survey also highlighted a skills gaps in the workforce of respondents within a specific and broad range, and in relation to employing an apprentice there was a lack of knowledge and understanding about the new opportunities and levels of apprenticeship training, which now included degree level.
Some of the emerging priorities were shared with Members and included:-
· whether businesses should be taking the initiative and developing those relationships to ensure that potential employees had the right skills set and understood the world of work. It was important to match young people's aspirations to a predicted learning and employment pathway to ensure a skilled workforce for the future.
· a better understanding of the growth in the self-employment sector.
· impact of the forecast shortfall in working age population.
· ensure adequate learning development support for lower skilled employees, and their employers/businesses.
In drawing the presentation to a conclusion, the Skills Officer referred to the governance arrangements and the formation of the Skills Advisory Group, which included the City Council, Greater Exeter Partners, the Local Enterprise Board and the LEP Advisory Panel as well as a range of stakeholders, businesses, and, crucially representatives from the education sectors.
The Skills Officer responded to Members’ questions on the following:-
· set out the classification for a small or medium business and the training and development of individual skills, with potentially greater opportunities to gain experience in a variety of roles. She also provided detail on the increase in the number of businesses and particularly in the science and professional sector.
· the classification of self-employed and the interesting dynamic in moving from being self employed to offering the opportunity of employment. Anecdotal feedback was that some large organisations offered employment on a contract basis, and that classification was also deemed as self-employment.
The Skills Officer added that projects underway included joint working with the Heart of the South West Careers Hub locally to enable greater schools engagement and a joined up approach to make sure there was the right signposting in place.
A copy of the presentation is appended to these minutes.
Place Scrutiny Committee noted the presentation and thanked the Skills Officer for her attendance.