Lifelong Skills for Growth project to be delivered in East Yorkshire

Fri, 21 Jan 2022

East Riding of Yorkshire Council is leading on the delivery of the Lifelong Skills for Growth project following £1.67 million of funding from the European Social Fund (ESF) and match funding provided by our partners from Hull City Council, North Lincolnshire Council, DN Colleges Group and Source Solutions.

The project will work with over 400 people, aged 50 or over who are considered to be more at risk of facing barriers to secure or retain employment and will:

  • Support skills development for those employed over 50, to up-skill, retrain and enable progression in work which will support workplace retention and ultimately improve business productivity
  • Support activities that will support SMEs to build their capacity to provide projects/placements/internship opportunities for people 50+ and to recognise the value of keeping hold of talent or bringing experience into their workforce, as well as the barriers to employment that they face.

The council will work alongside partners from Hull City Council, North Lincolnshire Council, DN Colleges Group and Source Solutions to deliver the Lifelong Skills for Growth project up to the end of 2023.

There is a well-established geographical context in the Humber including a below-average working age population where 61% of Humber residents are of working age (16-64), and an ageing workforce where, of the working age population, the Humber area has a higher proportion (39%) of older workers aged 50-64 compared to national levels. Similarly, 98% of businesses are SMEs in the Humber area and nationally a third of workers in SMEs are over 50.

The Government's National Industrial Strategy and Fuller Working Lives Strategy recognises that we have an ageing society. This project will deliver activities that will contribute to supporting older workers, and in particular help British businesses to "redesign jobs and workplaces to better use their older workers' experience, enabling individuals to keep active and stay in work. Workers will have more flexibility to help balance their work with caring responsibilities".

Indirectly, this project has been designed within the context and intention of the Ageing Society Grand Challenge and the 2017 UK Industrial Strategy. More than 10 million people in the UK today can expect to see their 100th birthday, compared to the 15,000 centurions today. Between 1998 and 2018, an 8% increase in 65+ population was recorded within East Riding region compared to approximately 2% at regional/national levels.

Indeed, the East Riding has a very high proportion of people of pensionable age at 25%, compared to 21% in the Humber and 18% in England. This figure is projected to increase to 33% by 2039. Given this demographic context, with an increasingly ageing population, this Grand Challenge reinforces the belief that we must transform the way we think about our work, our housing, our health, our finances and our communities.

This project, therefore, aims to lengthen workforce participation by older people in two primary ways: (1) by supporting skills development in the older workforce; and (2) by addressing workplace barriers that may inadvertently discourage the retention of older people and build capacity for new opportunity.

Many people over 50 are at risk of leaving the workforce early and not necessarily because they want to. Of many barriers experienced by older workers in securing or retaining employment, a recurrent concern is one's health and fitness to remain in work. This could likewise impact an older worker through caring responsibilities, which an estimated one-in-seven over-50s provides.

The results of this concern may manifest in several ways:

  • Age discrimination and unequal opportunity.
  • Limited access to flexible working opportunities.
  • Poor health.
  • Caring responsibilities.

9.6% of the Humber population had no qualifications compared to 8.5% in Yorkshire and Humber and 6.7% in Great Britain. Such data may reasonably be assumed to track to the 50-65 population. The impact of COVID-19 upon labour market competition is yet to be fully realised, however it can be assumed that those with more qualifications and skills will be more resilient to impact and hold a greater chance of securing future employment if out of work. Therefore, the pandemic may decrease labour market status and relevance of those without skills and exacerbate social exclusion.

This project links with the tertiary prevention stage outlined in the council's Health & Wellbeing Strategy 2019-2022 for "extending years of productivity" and building on "enhanced personal and community resilience." This is achieved by "equipping people with the skills they need to progress in the labour market," "engaging those furthest from employment or education and deliver higher level skills" and "building strong and effective community networks."

In line with the council's Equality Plan 2020-2024, this project also "advances equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who don't."

Councillor Jane Evison, portfolio holder for economic development and tourism at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: "This project is going to improve the skillsets and future prospects for over 400 people aged over 50 in East Yorkshire. Whilst we continue to work hard towards training the younger generations, it is still vitally important that everyone has the opportunity to upskill and progress in their careers for the future of workforce retention and to ultimately improve business productivity.

"This is a project which will now run for just over two years and we hope by working with our partners, all businesses will recognise the value of keeping hold of talent or bringing experience into their workforce, as well as the barriers to employment which can exist within some environments."

Councillor Daren Hale, Leader of Hull City Council and Portfolio Holder for Economic Investment and Regeneration, said: "People are now living longer, healthier lives and have the opportunity to think differently about working as they get older. Staying in work and taking control of when and how people retire can benefit an individual's income, health and wellbeing and the longer term access to knowledge, skills and experience, benefitting employers. We are proud to take part in this project, which tackles the challenges specific to an older workforce and builds a stronger and more balanced economy."

Sally Drury, Business Development and Learning Manager at Source Solutions, said: "We are really pleased to be a delivery partner for this project. We are looking forward to be able to support those that are over 50 with support and training to boost their skills and confidence. We are also able to support businesses to help them retain the talent and experience that an older workforce can bring."

Adele Ruhmann, Skills Officer at North Lincolnshire Council, said: "North Lincolnshire Council is delighted to be supporting this government funded  project as a delivery partner which will allow  our residents and business to enhance the regions skill base as we move out of the pandemic and drive towards levelling up the whole the region's economy. The funding will give the opportunities for over 50's to access training to enhance their existing roles, open new opportunities within the workforce and enhance businesses abilities to incentivise and  retain experienced staff members."

Jill Cooper, Executive Director Employer Engagement & Projects at DN Colleges Group said: "This is an exciting project to extend our reach working with local people. With increased demand for adult education budget, this provides an additional source of income to target this key group of adults, and we are really pleased that this funding is available locally for our community and we are sure it will make a real difference."

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