Supporting Londoners in into quality work is one of the great challenges facing our city today. LVSC’s latest report, Many Hands: Londoners, work and the voluntary and community sector, examines the employment and skills challenges facing individuals, existing employability support, and the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations active in this area.
Employment and skills challenges facing Londoners
Despite improving employment levels, Londoners continue to face significant employment and skills challenges. In particular, the trend towards the hollowing out of the labour market makes it more difficult for many people to secure decently paid, secure and meaningful work. VCSE organisations continue to consider a lack of skills and experience to be the greatest employability challenge facing Londoners, but expect insecure and poorly paid work and health issues to become increasing issues in the next three years.
Designing employability programmes
A range of public bodies commission employment and skills programmes. These have had a mixed record, with the national Work Programme being most negatively received and the local borough commissioned programmes most positively received. In order to succeed, future programmes need to be appropriately targeted, accessible, holistic, long term, integrated into other services, and contain adequate specialist support.
The VCSE sector plays an important role in employability provision, delivering integrated, specialist services that providers in other sectors will not or cannot deliver. However, reduced funding and increased demand has led to a protracted period of significant instability for the sector. Many organisations have responded to these pressures proactively. However, there is a serious danger that the more VCSE organisations focus on revenue generation, the more they will lose the distinctive characteristics which make them effective providers. Most concerning of all is the evidence of VCSE organisations closing or scaling back services, leading to greater levels of unmet need.
Londoners deserve well designed employability support and the VCSE should be part of designing and delivering it. Our recommendations fall into four categories: tackling labour market challenges directly; leveraging further resource for programmes; developing effective programmes; and improving the accessibility of programmes for VCSE organisations.