Kevin Rush, Director of Regional Economic Growth, sets out how the Partnership is building People Power through jobs, skills and education.
Glasgow City Region is one of the largest regions in the UK.
We have a population of 1.8 million people – roughly one third of Scotland. And our workforce is one of the most highly skilled and flexible in Europe, with 66% of working age and 42% educated to degree level – the second highest among other competing UK City Regions.
All of this plays a massive part in what makes our region so attractive to investors and large companies like Barclays looking to relocate to areas with strong skills bases, strengths in back office and technology – and of course far lower operating costs.
However, we cannot afford be complacent and we are working to do all we can to create more job opportunities, support our residents to be the best they can be, improve life chances and of course to bring people out of poverty.
The City Deal is set to create thousands of jobs – 29,000 new jobs and an additional 15,000 temporary jobs during the construction period. Our three City Deal labour market projects, established to support regional employment challenges, are now all competed. Youth Gateway, which finished substantially ahead of target, supported over 8,000 young people into work. The Working Matters pilot has helped thousands of Glasgow City Region residents in receipt of health-related benefits to begin the journey into long-term employment. These are those furthest away from the job market who often struggle with a whole range of different issues that stop them from being able to take on paid work – such as disability, mental or ill-health, literacy or numeracy problems. Finally, our In Work Progression pilot focused on the Care Sector where growth is inevitable due to demographic changes in our population. As such, it is important that the sector is resilient and able to meet this challenge, not just to play a key role in the region’s economic future but to ensure it continues to provide vital services to our ageing population, alongside the public sector. The Glasgow pilot provided business support and training to enhance the quality of work delivered by staff, to support career development and improve productivity
An evaluation of these three projects is now underway and the team leading on this – our Portfolio for Skills and Employability – will consider how we learn from and build on this excellent work.
Two recent developments in skills and education relate to our People. At this month’s Cabinet a new Regional Plan for Skills was approved. Skills are an important factor in our plans for growing the economy. The new plan is underpinned by a robust analysis of our labour market. It will see all of our public sector agencies, including the Region’s Colleges and Universities, work more effectively together to a common vision and set of agreed actions to meet the needs of residents and employers while encouraging economic growth and tackling inequality.
To succeed and grow, our businesses need people with the right skills who can rise to the challenge. Skills planning helps us take account of the changing world around us and ensures our Universities and Colleges are offering the right training and courses which are fit for the future. That might mean more learning opportunities in Digital Skills or Artificial Intelligence to support our emerging Innovation sector and to keep ahead of advances in technology. Or it could be about ensuring we have enough of our own residents trained as engineers or brick layers to support our twenty year City Deal infrastructure programme.
On an individual level, the importance of skills cannot be underestimated in building confidence, raising aspiration, improving productivity and reducing barriers to participation.
So skills planning is important for our residents, businesses and for our economy.
Our collaboration in Education has also been making great progress and is allowing us to share extensive learning and experience across eight council areas, 700 schools and 250,000 young people.
Through the Glasgow City Region Education Collaborative we are working together on plans to ensure our children do even better at school and to give them the best opportunities to fulfil their potential. In the last few weeks, we brought together over 700 head teachers and senior staff from across the Region at two separate conferences to share experiences, learn from each other and find out more about the work being undertaken by the Collaborative.
The two events, held in Glasgow, were attended by staff responsible for the education of over a third of Scotland’s school children and involved a series of workshops focusing on the themes being driven forward by the Collaborative. Both events highlighted the Region’s strong educational performance, outperforming the national averages and delivering real progress in seeking to tackle the poverty related attainment gap. Both events also included a session with the Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP and the Chief Executive of Education Scotland, Gayle Gorman, giving staff the opportunity to ask questions and raise issues about their experiences.
We have high ambitions for our Collaborative and a number of new supporting initiatives are anticipated in the coming months to help make these a reality. You can find out more about progress here.
Our people are not just the key to our success as a region but also the means by which our success will be measured.