Islington Employment Commission calls for collaboration

Abigail Melville

I have just attended the launch of the final report of Islington’s Employment Commission  – a fantastic piece of work involving a huge range of local stakeholders.

The report provides great evidence and ideas for CCIN’s Policy Commission on Community Resilience, Jobs and Growth, which is currently gathering evidence and will be discussing findings and proposals at our next working group on 11th December.

Unlike many CCIN places, Islington, in the centre of London, has plenty of jobs. But 33% of Islington’s working age population are not in work – the highest in London. A third of Islington’s children live in households with parents on out of work benefits. So the labour market is not working for Islington residents who remain excluded and in poverty.

The Commission spoke to over 100 different local organisations, including business and job seekers. Vice Chair Cllr Robert Khan said they found no evidence to support three common myths:

– it is not true people don’t want to work – people are generally trying hard  to get into work but are facing many barriers

–  there is no lack of aspiration in young people – but there is confusion and uncertainty about opportunities and pathways to work

– there is no lack of resources – in this policy area resources are not the issue and in fact they found over 154 local organisations.

The Commission found no single answer, but their overarching message is the need to improve collaboration, creating single access points and cooperation at the front line.

They recommend the creation of a seamless, targeted “case-work and coaching” employment support service to help all residents to get, keep and enjoy their job. The report says “Islington Council and JobCentre Plus must take the lead on working together to transform the system”. They will need national  support from DWP to make this a reality.

Employers need to recruit better locally. They recommend creating a single place for employers to go for local recruitment and create business champions to lead by example in creating inclusive, flexible workforces.They will use a Business Engagement Leadership Group to drive change.

They recommend a new culture of employment in education so that all young people get the support they need to get into a good career. As Frank McLoughlin, Principal of City and Islington College put it “we’ve lost the training habit”. The council will bring together a network of Work Related Learning and Careers leads in schools and colleges to make sure employment and skills education is a priority.

The messages about collaboration, improving relationships and changing culture have strong echoes with discussion at our evidence session in Liverpool last week and I am sure will chime with the discussions in Sandwell and Plymouth this week.

Islington have set out a strong offer, to their partners and citizens and to central government.

Working together, CCIN councils can reinforce these messages. We need to use our Policy Commission to speak with one voice and show policy-makers nationally (and leaders locally) there is a better way to get our citizens and our places working – a cooperative way.


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