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1. Background

Employment is a principal wider determinant of health. Employment plays a pivotal role in health and wellbeing, for individuals and for families. Employment influences social mobility, economic independence, housing, and income. 

Experiencing job loss, or fear of unemployment, has considerable negative impacts upon mental wellbeing and is linked to poverty. Evidence shows that unemployment can lead to loneliness and has also shown that people experiencing loneliness are more likely to encounter unemployment. “Given the persisting and potentially scarring effects of both loneliness and unemployment on health and the economy, prevention of both experiences is key” (Source: BMC Public Health).  

An individual’s ability to gain and sustain employment is affected by physical, mental and life-limiting illnesses, short-term and temporary employment, and low skill levels. Skill levels are one of the most important determinants of socio-economic outcomes. Skills are an important route out of poverty, and a key driver of economic prosperity.  Despite progress, a skills gap still persists in Lincolnshire. Local unemployment rates remain high, leading some to rely on benefit claims. Rurality, and lack of access are sometimes a barrier to work. Childcare, for example, can be difficult to afford or access in smaller towns and villages if individuals are not on a professional salary. 

Strategic alliances and partnership working between residents, employers, training providers, education settings, and other local strategic partners, is required to address these issues. 

2. Policy Context

The Skills and Post-16 Education Act 2022 

  • The Act is intended to help transform the skills and training landscape and level up opportunities across the country. 
  • The Act underpins the government’s transformation of post-16 education and skills, as set out in the Skills for Jobs White Paper, and will help drive growth across the country. 
  • Skills to support the burgeoning green economy will be prioritised to create a workforce for jobs now and in the future, and schools will be required to make sure all children get to meet people that provide technical education routes such as apprenticeships, T Levels or traineeships – opening their eyes to a wide range of careers. 
  • The legislation will aid economic recovery and growth by making it easier for people to get the skills they need to secure well-paid jobs in industries with skills gaps, such as health and social care, engineering, digital, clean energy, and manufacturing. It will give more people the opportunity to get jobs in their local area, by requiring employers and colleges to work together to identify the skills needed within communities. 

Plan for Jobs 2020 was introduced to address the economic impact of Covid-19.  Several of the interventions introduced are still in place including expansion of the Traineeship programme, tailored support for unemployed residents, and expansion of support offered through the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Jobcentres, and individualised advice on training and careers through the National Careers Service. 

Local Policies include the Local Industrial Strategy (Greater Lincolnshire LEP) and the Covid Revival Plans (Greater Lincolnshire LEP) 

3. Local Picture

Lincolnshire is home to 28,285 businesses, supporting 307,000 jobs. Pre-pandemic (2019) the Lincolnshire economy (measured in current prices) was worth £15.6bn, which fell to £15.0bn during 2020. Nominal economic growth between 2015 and 2020 was 11%, despite the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on the economy (Source: GLLEP).  The manufacturing, healthcare, and retail sectors are the top three sectors for jobs. Although these sectors are evolving rapidly, pressing vacancies are often frontline and do not, necessarily, require higher level skills to enter. Greater Lincolnshire has proportionally less jobs in knowledge intensive, ‘contemporary’ sectors, such as digital and renewables – growth sectors generally requiring higher-level skills.  Locally important sectors, such as AgriFood, Care, Engineering, and Construction regularly report skills shortages in both entry-level positions and higher technical and professional roles. 

2022 ONS Reports reveal the number of residents economically active in Lincolnshire is lower than in East Midlands, or in Great Britain. Of the economically inactive, the highest percentage in Lincolnshire are working aged adults on long term sick (i.e. continuous absence lasting more than four weeks). 

Compared to national figures, Lincolnshire has made progress in reducing the proportion of people with ‘no qualifications’, in the past ten years; and there are a higher proportion of residents undertaking an Apprenticeship. However, the Local Skills Report shows that the following challenges persist: 

  • 8.3% of 16-64 years population have no qualifications compared to 6.6% across England.  
  • Adult skills levels are a concern. There is a persistent gap in the proportion of residents with ‘higher’, Level 4 and above, qualifications. 
  • Lincolnshire is bottom third in DfE rankings for upper LAs based on 16–64-year-olds with level 3 qualifications (2019). 
  • Lincolnshire has stark geographical disparities: 
  • East Lindsey, Boston and South Holland perform worst (Source: Skills for Life Survey) 
  • Nearly a third of residents in eastern Lincolnshire have no/low qualifications.  
  • East Lindsey and South Holland saw a 29.6% and 4.7% fall in NVQ 2 inclusions (2020-2021) compared to a 0.1% increase nationally (Source: Midlands Engine Observatory) 
  • Over 20% of “hard to fill” job vacancies are due to skills shortages. 
  • With a population density of just 155 people per sq. km compared to 434 nationally, scarcity means that reaching the critical mass required for service delivery is difficult, and some areas are poorly connected by road or other public transport. 
          4. Local Response

          Lincolnshire County Council’s (LCC) vision is, “Working for a better future”, for residents. The LCC Corporate Plan wishes to support high aspirations;  

          • LCC seeks to enhance the skills of its communities to meet the needs of businesses and the economy and,  
          • Promote healthy, inclusive, accessible employment and learning opportunities.   
          • Greater Lincolnshire partners are working on a Vision 2050 to determine ‘what a good life looks like’ based on place, people, health and wellbeing, and economic opportunity. Measured using the Social Progress Index (SPI), it will support long-term levelling-up ambitions (including the skills mission). UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UK SPF) investment will catalyse activity in three priority areas; Community and Place; Supporting Local Business; and People and Skills, by engaging a wide variety of residents and businesses (aligning the vision and activities across District’s and contiguous unitary authorities which form the Greater Lincolnshire geography. 

          The Employment and Skills Commissioning Board is a joint board between LCC and the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership (GLLEP) to advise on skills issues, opportunities, and challenges. Together, colleagues with a remit for skills and employment from across the council and the GLLEP work together to reflect the ‘One Council’ approach, to maximise combined strengths and expertise. The GLLEP sets the economic strategy for Greater Lincolnshire, whilst the Employment and Skills Board brings together local employers and skills providers to pool knowledge on skills and labour market needs, and to work together to understand and address local challenges. This includes both immediate needs and challenges and looking at the requirements of local areas to help them adapt to future labour market changes and grasp future opportunities. This will steer colleges, universities and other providers to deliver the skills required by employers in the future. 

          Devolution is the transfer or delegation of power by central government to local or regional administration. The GLLEP are exploring the feasibility and potential outcomes of devolution in Lincolnshire (Source: Devolution Lincolnshire). 

          5. Community & Stakeholder Views

          Key organisations and services include GLLEP, GLLEP Employment & Skills Advisory Panel, Greater Lincolnshire Universities, Colleges of FE and Training Providers, Business Lincolnshire Growth Hub, LCC Inward Investment Team, LCC Children’s Services, DWP, Jobs22, NHS, YMCA, Shaw Trust, Prince’s Trust, EDAN Lincolnshire, and the Nomad Trust. 

          No public engagement has been undertaken to gather views from Lincolnshire residents. 

          6. Gaps and Unmet Needs
          • Lincolnshire is England’s second largest county, has the fourth lowest population density, and is classified as one of the most rural counties by Defra. Many communities are geographically isolated with poor public transport. This presents considerable barriers to provision of, and cost challenges for, effective skills delivery. Even more so, in areas of the highest disadvantage, along the east coast. 
          • Businesses and investors commonly juggle the attractiveness and affordability of Lincolnshire with problems of workforce accessibility because of a lack of appropriate public transport links. 
          • High levels of digital exclusion. Even where broadband connectivity exists, many residents cannot afford contracts and/or devices, or do not have the skills to utilise them. 
          7. Next Steps

          The top priorities to be addressed in skills and employment: 

          1. Work with training providers across Lincolnshire, to focus the LCC Adult Education Budget (AEB) programme on flexibility to support retraining, the unemployed, low skilled, and the areas of greatest skills deprivation. 
          2. Increase the number of Lincolnshire residents undertaking Apprenticeship programmes. 
          3. Increase the proportion of residents with ‘higher’, Level 4 and above, qualifications with support for graduate retention. 
          4. Alignment of the Skills Capital Investment Programme with Lincolnshire’s growth sectors and their skills gaps, and skills shortages. The GLLEP has identified sectors with competitive advantage that can offer growth opportunities throughout the region;  Agri-food, Manufacturing, Visitor Economy, Energy, Health & Care, Ports & Logistics, Defence & Security. 
          5. Focus local policy on communities where evidence of employment and skills disadvantage can be demonstrated – for example, East Lindsey coastal strip. 
          6. Equal access, and take-up of, careers information; increase awareness of local career opportunities in growth sectors; by young people, adults, and supporters, such as parents and schools. 
          7. Greater collaboration between colleges, vocational training providers, schools, and commissioners of funding to maximise shared intelligence and insight to inform locally-led activity. Pursue collective stakeholder feedback for Government on national policy and initiatives; and influence the alignment of forthcoming funding opportunities, such as UK Shared Prosperity Fund. 
                      Lincolnshire JSNA People