Employment and Skills Board Chair Blog

March 13, 2023

The latest Employment and Skills Board (ESB) meeting highlighted some fantastic work that is happening across the sectors in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly as well as highlighting recruitment issues and questions around future funding.

The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Cornwall Council have embedded ‘Good Work’ in the development and delivery of the Employment and Skills Strategy and Good Growth Investment Plans.

The request is to establish a Good Work Forum, reporting directly to the Employment and Skills Board, to enable the LEP and Cornwall Council to translate their strategies and investment plans into a clear set of actions and deliverables to support the Good Work aims. This has been approved by the ESB.

Proud to Care Cornwall have Worked with DWP and have identified several health professionals from the Ukraine in Cornwall. Those identified are keen to work in health and care and if possible, gain professional registration in the UK.

One barrier is language and the need to achieve level 7 International English Language Testing System (IELTS) in English to be eligible for registration. In partnership with a language school, Proud to Care now have a cohort of professionals on an accelerated IELTS preparation course with the aim to be ready to take examinations in March this includes doctors, a dentist and other health professionals.

They have identified a further group that need more preparation to increase language skills before an IELTS courses can be considered. Options are now being explored to support this group and others working in the sector in support roles who may have overseas qualifications. This sets the standard for upskilling an existing workforce and using cross organisation collaboration to achieve success.

It was reported that the hospitality market is pretty gloomy about economic prospects at the moment. The potential downturn in the economy has eased recruitment a little as businesses have reduced employee numbers over the winter and have not yet re-recruited due to the economic uncertainty.

Housing continues to be an acute issue for the hospitality sector, particularly the high cost of rental relative to wages. Despite large wage increases, hospitality workers are worse off than in 2016 and houses are increasingly unaffordable in the UK.

A board member said, ‘Supply chain issues, combined with higher interest rates and energy costs, is likely to make the achievement of growth in the sector sluggish at best. I am not optimistic the industry will be investing in the skills and training it needs.’

Businesses in the creative sector are struggling to retain, maintain, develop and inspire future talent along with budgets, which are stretched by inflation, are having an adverse effect on employers’ abilities to meet salary demands.

From the ground up, this is inspiring a reimagining of how money is earned and spent. This is something that is particularly prevalent within the millennial generation, who in Cornwall, remain locked out of their community in a housing market shaped by second home ownership.

Venue-based creativity continues to experience a resurgence. As with desk-based creatives, there have been a lot of new ventures starting out over the last two years, with people and businesses re-evaluating how they work on a regular basis. Increased living and energy costs are putting enormous strain on the hospitality industry and a number of venues are opting to close for the depths of winter as a result.

We are pleased to hear that Falmouth University has been ranked the as the number 1 Arts University in the UK by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023. Maintaining Cornwall’s presence in the wider creative sector.

The Cornwall Manufacturers Group (CMG) was runner up in the National Manufacturing Awards 2023. The CMG, which has only been going for nine months was judged to be better than McLaren Automotive. Other sectors are now saying that they want to do something similar.

Cornwall College Group is preparing to extend the academy for the next academic year, discussions are taking place with Truro and Penwith to also run the programme.

Martin Tucker and John Evans travelled to Parliament on 1st March to meet with all of the Cornwall MPs to raise the concerns of the lack of post-16 funding which is having a significant impact on the recruitment of staff.

CMN has been short-listed for the prestigious Maritime UK ‘Coastal Powerhouse Award’ for an organisation that has driven economic improvements in Coastal communities. This follows CMN recently celebrating their 20th anniversary and achieving the hugely significant milestone of having supported members to add more than £500 million of value to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly economy through new jobs created and productivity and turnover increases during this period.

Stacey Sleeman explained that there are 3 “pillars” to the Shared Prosperity Fund – Places and Communities, Business Support and People & Skills with no commissioning for People & Skills until the final year (2024-25).

Where possible, Skills has been embedded into the first two pillars to try and reduce the drop-off after ESF. The aim is to get initiation forms etc signed off by the Economic Prosperity Board in July so that commissioning etc can be done in advance of the start date on 1st April 2024.

Someone from Good Growth will be invited to give an update at the next ESB meeting and discuss the impact of ESF rundown.

All enquiries/feedback requests on SPF should be emailed to the Good Growth team at: goodgrowth@cornwall.gov.uk

Frances Brennen – Employment and Skills Board Chair