This regional economic strategy has been produced to help us deliver a smarter, fairer economy over the next 20 years. It builds on work already being undertaken to deliver better economic outcomes for everyone, which means focussing on growth that is inclusive.
What this means in practice is that inclusive growth must form an integral part of our wider strategic approach that focuses on increasing the competitiveness of the area by building on employment sectors with growth potential. In doing so we must ensure that the opportunities created are open to all and the benefits of enhanced prosperity are distributed fairly. Our intention is to become a recognised Fair Work Region.
Specifically, our approach focuses on the need to connect the opportunities being created through internationalisation, innovation and connectivity to the futures of those in school and those currently seeking work. In other words, the approach seeks to ensure that economic growth enhances the opportunities available for those currently further from work – and that this in turn contributes to economic growth.
We will continue to work in partnership with the Scottish Government to further inform our current thinking on inclusive growth and align and measure outcomes with those set out in the emerging Inclusive Growth Measurement Framework: Economic Performance, Fair Work, Labour Market Access, People and Place.
We’ve built our approach on the key issues presented by the current evidence:
- A deep seated and substantial issue about long term unemployment notably in Dundee but also in deprived communities across the area. Whilst unemployment levels have fallen substantially following the impact of the 2008 recession, long term unemployment has stayed stubbornly high, particularly among men, and there is a steady (though low) flow of people into this group.
- Tay Cities economic region has higher rate of unemployment than Scotland for the working age population as a whole, and for youth and males (but slightly lower than Scottish average for females)
- Dundee City has a youth unemployment rate of 20%
- Dundee City has twice the Scottish rate of male unemployment
- Over 40% of JSA claimants in Dundee city have been claiming for over a year. It is followed by NE Fife with 34.5%
- 22% of JSA claimants aged over 25 in Dundee have been claiming for over 2 years.
- A range of local efforts and national programmes over the last 20 years have not made a substantial impact on this problem and the statistics show many moving ever further from work. It therefore requires a sustained, coherent, large scale response, focusing on this client group (based in these deprived communities and building links between them and the job opportunities that are available) and with a parallel approach to reducing the flow into longer term unemployment through early identification and intervention.
- Effective approaches to support for this group need to involve a wide range of services working together around the complex needs of both individuals and families. This effort needs to be based in those communities where the priority individuals live and to draw on a wide range of existing specialist resources. This approach is currently being piloted by multi-agency teams in two areas of Dundee.
- The journey to work followed by many of these individuals is likely to be long – and it needs to be actively supported and managed. Many will need additional support when they make the final transition to work – around a range of issues including practical matters, relationships and routines.
- There is evidence (Rocket Science, 2016) that a significant proportion of those finding work – particularly among those initially further from work – subsequently lose the work they find and revert to unemployment. Once in work the evidence suggests that they may be in low paid, insecure roles, or be vulnerable to falling out of work. Thus there is a need for a concerted effort to help them make progress into better paid and more secure roles and so make a sustained move out of unemployment and poverty with its related personal and family costs and a range of demands on public services.
- Finally, there is evidence from employers of a weak match between the skills of recruits and their needs. This has informed the development of a range of ‘close to work’ skill enhancement approaches which can close this gap, enhance the confidence of employers when recruiting and ensure a more successful transition to work. This will both enhance productivity (and ultimately business growth and employment) and increase the propensity of employers to employ.
We will respond to this evidence of need by putting in place a transformational skills programme to address these issues and to complement the support for key growth sectors set out in this economic strategy.
Why we believe this approach will make a difference
We believe our proposed approach will succeed where previous approaches at both local and national level have failed. We will take a more systematic approach using existing and additional resources in a more focused and effective way. We will also work collaboratively across the region with a strong focus on actively managing the performance of the whole employability and skills service. Our Tay Cities Deal Proposal sets out the specific actions we will take and the support we seek of both the Scottish and UK Governments.
Job opportunities in the area over the next 20 years will be driven by both replacement demand from existing businesses and organisations and over time, the creation of new jobs. Our focus will be to create progression opportunities for those active in the labour market, as well as to ease access restrictions for new entrants to the jobs market, to support our ambition of smarter, fairer growth.