Nottinghamshire Employment Skills Board (NESB)

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					Greater Nottingham Employment and Skills Board Paper 030509

              Creating a Nottinghamshire: City & County
                  Employment & Skills Partnership
Purpose
      1. This paper summarises and recommends a new partnership arrangement
         to integrate employment and skills across Nottinghamshire: City and
         County.

Overview
      2. The Greater Nottingham Employment & Skills Board (GNESB) agreed, by
         consensus at its March 2009 board meeting, to explore options for
         becoming a countywide partnership. This followed an initial invitation from
         the Alliance Employment & Skills Board (AESB) who due to changes in
         sub-regional economic development, would like to see an arrangement in
         place that would build on their successes across the Alliance sub-regional
         area of North Nottinghamshire.

      3. It is clear that there is a great deal of overlap in the aims and
         achievements of both partnerships and that there is a common aspiration
         to help deliver sustainable economic change for local communities. By
         formalising an approach that builds on these achievements a partnership
         would be created that is ambitious, is significant and investible; helping
         develop future economic prosperity across a wider area. This fulfils the
         underlying purpose of having Employment and Skills Boards and the
         added value that they deliver. In terms of the membership, the overlap is
         considerable, with only a couple of AESB members not represented at the
         GNESB.

      4. The section below summarises the national policy advice on the
         development and role of ESBs. Further information on the local context is
         contained in the appendix.

The National ESB Context
      5. In 2006 the Leitch Review of Skills1 was published in which Lord Leitch
         recommended ESBs, led by employers, would be used to engage local
         employers, commissioners and providers, to:- articulate labour market
         needs, scrutinise local services and recommend improvements in
         integrating labour market and training support. This was followed by a

1
    “Prosperity for all in the global economy- world class skills”, HMT, December 2006.


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        series of Government reports which gave further policy support for the
        implementation of employment and skills boards from the Department for
        Work and Pensions (DWP), Department for Innovation, Universities and
        Skills (DIUS), Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) and
        the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).

    6. In line with government policy many city regions and metropolitan areas
       are progressing the employment and skills agenda through Multi-Area
       Agreements (MAAs). These represent the opportunity to work across
       current local council administrative areas to create a more strategic
       approach. Although Nottinghamshire is not presently developing an MAA,
       increased cross-boundary working is seen as a positive development by
       the Government Office for the East Midlands.

    7. Integrating Employment and Skills (IES) has now become the principle
       focus for reforming the delivery of services funded through the Learning
       Skills Council and Jobcentre Plus- ensuring that people looking for work
       have access to skills support in order to find and sustain employment
       relevant to local labour market demands. Integrated Employment and
       Skills and/or Work & Skills Plans are seen as key regional & local
       strategies.

    8. Most recently the “Houghton Review of Worklessness”2 published in 2009
       recommends that “Local Strategic Partnerships, or sub-regional
       partnerships, should ensure they have robust governance arrangements
       by establishing employer-led Employment and Skills Boards, where these
       do not currently exist”. The report states that ESBs would play a key role
       in shaping a local review of worklessness and inform planning on
       economic assessment.        The government‟s response to the review
       describes sub-regional ESB‟s and their potential in terms of devolution of
       both skills and employment funding.

Establishing a Nottinghamshire: City and County Employment
and Skills Partnership
    9. Nationally ESBs are lauded as the recommended approach to creating
       effective public/private sector partnerships to oversee employment & skills
       delivery. Locally the benefits of establishing a countywide Employment
       and Skills Board were clearly articulated by the GNESB at its last meeting.
       The Board felt that this geography would align more closely with current
       travel to work patterns, facilitated by strong transport infrastructure and

2
 “Tackling Worklessness: a review of the contribution and role of local authorities and
partnerships- Final Report”, DCLG, March 2009.


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     more accurately reflects the economic needs of local businesses and
     residents. In addition rationalising structures enables efficiency savings to
     be made at a time when public funding is under pressure.

  10. Although a countywide structure could be perceived to dilute the focus on
     local needs, other city regions such as Greater Manchester, Sheffield,
     Merseyside and Tyne & Wear have been able to develop arrangements
     which reconcile the strategic needs of an area alongside the control of
     local funds and services. A Nottinghamshire structure for employment and
     skills should be able to support the specific local needs of Nottingham
     City, Mansfield and Worksop and enable good practice to be shared
     between them.

  11. As the Learning & Skills Council staff transfer into the new regional Skills
     Funding Agency, there will be a significant reduction in the staff able to
     support employment & skills partnership activity. By working on a
     countywide basis, we will be able to maximise this input

  12. A countywide structure would provide appropriate governance for the
     devolution arrangements developing with DWP under its „Cities Strategy‟
     programme, including our jointly commissioned activity. Under DWP‟s
     sponsorship of the „Cities Strategy‟ programme- size does matter. DWP is
     entering into a „new phase‟ of relationships with local partners and is keen
     to support the expansion of pathfinder areas, such as Nottingham, which
     are currently seen as too small to attract government investment. We are
     expected to clarify our aspirations for working with the government on
     employment and skills as part of this partnership‟s new strategy and have
     been given strong indications that a countywide arrangement is far more
     appropriate.

  13. The basic elements of a countywide Nottinghamshire: City and County
      Employment and Skills Partnership would consist of:

        A single Nottinghamshire Integrated Employment & Skills Strategy led
         by a new Nottinghamshire: City and County Employment & Skills
         Board (nccESB) that maintains a „demand-led‟ environment and
         articulates our aspirations as a partnership;
        A single advisory board which performs the senior secretariat function
         for the board and is able to develop management of performance and
         accountability;
        Formalised performance arrangements/agreements “under” the
         Advisory Board to monitor Local Area Agreement activities, City
         Strategy Performance, DWP co-commissioning, and other mainstream
         activity; and


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        Clear relationships with district local authorities and Local Strategic
         Partnerships (LSPs) recognising and influencing their local needs.

Key Priorities for the Nottinghamshire: City and County
Employment and Skills Partnership
  14. The overarching aim of the new partnership would be to continue to
      support local businesses prosper and local people find, stay and succeed
      in work. The partnership would aim to support the drive in reducing
      poverty, particularly child poverty and deprivation. Through an emphasis
      on skills and future investment and with the leadership of the private
      sector, the nccESB and its partnership would also focus on improving the
      level of skills across Nottinghamshire and support the drive for more
      knowledge intensive industries. Finally, the nccESB would remain
      committed to its aspiration of working with the Government, through
      devolution, to do more locally. All of this activity, and the investment it
      brings, will contribute directly to the achievement of the Local Area
      Agreement targets in both Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

  15. Creating a more significant and investible partnership would in turn create
      more investment chances for Nottingham City and County and would allow
      greater sharing of good practice. Specific examples of priorities that could
      be developed under the leadership of the nccESB could include:

        Joining up responses to future skills demands, economic recovery and
         support for future economic assessments- to directly support economic
         visions established for Nottingham and Nottinghamshire in any
         appropriate community strategies (this fits well with Nottingham City
         Council‟s and Nottinghamshire County Council‟s intention to work
         together on a joint economic assessment);
        Drawing on a wide pool of expertise and shared experience when it
         comes to developing effective ways of tackling disengagement across
         diverse communities;
        Rationalised approaches to public sector procurement and support for
         other sectors of countywide importance- such as health and social
         care;
        Building on the strong partnership in place between health and work
         providers in Nottingham City to address health and work inequalities
         (particularly issues on mental health across the county); and
        Aligning employment and skills planning alongside 14-19
         arrangements being put into place by Nottingham City Council and
         Nottinghamshire County Council.



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Issues

  16. Establishing a new ESB arrangement and partnership over a wider base
      will inevitably create challenges. For example it will be essential to
      redefine the relationship with a number of organisations including: the
      new Skills Funding Agency (SFA), Connexions, Colleges and Training
      Providers and the regional Employment, Skills and Productivity
      Partnership (esp) to ensure that they are effectively represented within the
      new partnership. Additionality as the ESB coverage will be extended
      across the county a key challenge will be engaging with District LSPs,
      including Nottingham City Council‟s new Working Nottingham Partnership,
      and District Council economic development teams. Good practice exists
      across the country which can be used to find appropriate models for
      engaging local perspectives.


Recommendations

  17. It recommended that we agree to establish a Nottinghamshire: City and
      County Employment and Skills Partnership.

  18. In terms of the immediate steps needed to set the new arrangements in
      place and support the approach outlined in this paper, it is recommended
      that:

        A new Nottinghamshire: City and County Employment & Skills Board
         (nccESB) meets for the first time in July 2009 at an extended Board
         meeting/development day, to finalise its terms of reference and to
         agree an Integrated Employment and Skills strategy (including vision,
         aims and targets);

        During the transitional period keep the membership of the new ESB „as
         is‟ pending a finalised terms of reference;

        The Advisory Board (as described in the GNESB‟s proposed terms of
         reference) is established immediately in order to:- develop the
         partnership arrangements (including resolving the issues identified in
         this paper and mitigate as appropriate any risks attached to them); the
         secretariat function; performance framework and governance;




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         Revise the delivery arrangement with DWP for the current City
          Strategy to become part of Nottinghamshire‟s Integrated Employment
          and Skills strategy. This will also entail establishing appropriate
          accountable arrangements for any future funding. In the interim it is
          recommended that GNP undertakes this role in order to simplify
          existing arrangements; and

         The outcome from this meeting is reported back to the Alliance
          Employment and Skills Board, which is due to meet on the 22 nd May.




Tom Stockwell, Jobcentre Plus           Nigel Jackson, Director Economic
District Manager,                       Development Learning Skills Council,
Nottinghamshire                         Nottinghamshire




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