Headlines: May 15th, 2009

Councils are to take on a job creation role with a target to create 150,000 new jobs. They have been invited to bid for a share of £1 billion Future Jobs Fund. The aim of the new Jobs fund is to prevent another generation from ending up on the ‘long term employment scrapheap’. This new role comes from a recognition that councils, who have intimate knowledge of the local area, are best placed to drive forward job creation from the grassroots.

The new role and funding are a response to the Houghton report, commissioned by Communities and Local Government and published in March. As the report recommended, councils will now create unemployment profiles of their communities so they can design jobs and skills programmes to fit local labour markets and future demand. Assessment of local unemployment should be completed by the middle of this year. They will also evaluate claimant trends and assess the impact of the downturn on the most vulnerable groups in their local areas who may be disproportionately affected and need innovative forms of support.

Councils will collaborate with Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships in building capacity and they will be able to draw on a £3 million budget to fund this activity.

In addition, Government will establish a new National Worklessness Forum to bring central Government, councils and other local organisations together to find the best ways to help unemployed people back into work.

Councils have also been asked to standardise their personnel policies by signing Local Employment Partnerships and advertising vacancies in Jobcentre Plus. They will also sign skills pledges and make more use of Train2Gain job training so staff with low qualifications can progress further up the career ladder.