William Eichler 17 May 2022

Devolve powers to tackle jobs crisis, council chiefs say

Devolve powers to tackle jobs crisis, council chiefs say image
Image: fizkes/Shutterstock.com.

Local authority leaders have called on the Government to devolve more powers to councils in order to free them up to tackle the growing job crisis at the local level.

A new publication from the Local Government Association (LGA) warns that there are an estimated two jobseekers chasing every one vacancy in a third of the country.

Entitled Work Local – Unlocking talent to level up, the report sets out how more targeted support, coordinated by councils and combined authorities, is needed to match employers with jobseekers.

Local authorities, according to the study, are also best placed to engage those that have left the jobs market and ensure sufficient skills training is in place to meet necessary demand.

The LGA insists that, when it comes to the jobs crisis, Whitehall ‘cannot fix the problem alone’ and should devolve more powers to councils.

Cllr Kevin Bentley, chairman of the LGA’s People and Places Board, said: ‘Our economy is changing rapidly and a record number of vacancies alongside large falls in people in the workforce have combined to create the tightest jobs market in our lifetimes.

‘These changes are not being felt equally across the country, with too many people battling for fewer jobs in some areas while in others, employers are crying out for skilled workers to meet demand.

‘The Government’s “one size fits all” national approach to employment and skills is no longer fit for purpose. Levelling up should mean adapting support to local needs, making it more personalised and joined-up for people seeking work, while recognising the wide variations not just between different parts of the country, but also within them.

‘No area should be left behind. Councils and combined authorities – who know their communities best – want to be front and centre in ensuring everyone has the chance to learn new skills and find work, in good jobs needed by local businesses, in the places where they live.’

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: 'Our brilliant DWP Work Coaches are matching jobseekers to local vacancies in growing sectors and supporting people – at any age and any career stage – to seize that next opportunity, get into work and progress. We’re also working directly with employers across the country, and connecting them with the job-ready talent they need to fill their roles.

'Any businesses struggling should reach out to their local jobcentre, where they can benefit from sector-specific support, like hospitality jobs fairs, and our Sector-Based Work Academy Programme, which is training an average of 1,600 jobseekers a week in the skills we know employers need.'

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