Plans to help Crawley people into better jobs and education launched

10 March 2016

Ambitious plans to help Crawley people access better quality job opportunities within the town was launched last week.

In the spirit of the plan’s public / private sector partnership approach, the launch event was held at PwC’s offices in Crawley’s High Street and featured speakers from Crawley Borough Council (Cllr Peter Smith, Cabinet member for Planning and Economic Development), the Construction Industry Training Board (Fred Titterington, Strategic Partnership Advisor), the National Apprenticeship Service (Sarah Sawyer, Apprenticeships Advisor) and PwC (Charlotte Main, Student Recruitment Officer).

The event, aimed at business stakeholders, described the aims to address skills gaps in the local workforce through four main projects – including the submission of an application to the CITB to become a Client Based Approach Skills Academy, Skills Laboratory, Crawley Young Workers Scheme and Employ Crawley; along with Crawley’s recent apprenticeship history and range of apprenticeship levels available in the town.

Through joint working with public and private partners, the schemes will benefit both local people and businesses by addressing skills gaps, creating different routes to education and higher value jobs, empowering the most disadvantaged residents and promoting and enhancing the town’s Living Wage status.

Talking at the event, Cllr Peter Smith said: “Many people have thriving careers in Crawley but all too often Crawley people are missing out somewhere along the line. I’m very pleased to be bringing this plan forward; we’ve identified the key objectives and now it’s time to bring people together and do something about it.”

Crawley is a major economic hub in the South East, home to 3000 active businesses which generate more than 89,000 jobs. Covering just two per cent of land in West Sussex, Crawley contributes more than 25 per cent of the county’s GVA (gross value added).

Despite the wealth of economic opportunities, Crawley residents hold fewer qualifications than the commuting workforce and therefore earn less due to limited access into management and professional careers. Addressing this gap is vital to enabling local people to take advantage of the opportunities on their doorstep.

On average 22.7 per cent of the Crawley population hold a degree while the South East average is 39.1 per cent and the national average is 36 per cent. This is one reason holding local people back from management and professional roles, although there are a number of factors, and the programme recognises some of the issues Crawley people can face and attempts to offer different routes to suit different needs.

A highlight at last week’s launch was the National Apprenticeship’s Service torch which was engineered by first and second year apprentices and symbolises the passing of knowledge from one generation to the next. The torch is touring the South of England and offers employers the opportunity to showcase their commitment by pledging to recruit apprentices to help achieve a three million apprenticeship target by 2020.

Sue Husband, Director of the National Apprenticeship Service, said:

“Now is the time for more young people to consider apprenticeships as a route into a successful and rewarding career and for more businesses to get on board and reap the benefits.

The country’s top employers are offering the best start to enable young people to get the skills they need for a great job, not only with apprenticeships but with work experience and traineeships.

The government’s ambition is for 3 million more apprenticeships by 2020. While many businesses are already reaping the benefits of apprenticeships – there is a need for more to get involved to fill the skills gap.”

And Charlotte Main from PwC, who offer higher apprenticeships in Crawley and across the UK, said: “We do a lot of outreach work with local schools and we’re building on this from our Crawley Office too. We want to make sure everyone has access to opportunities at PwC are committed to ensuring that we engage with a broad and diverse pool of local talent.”

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