Agenda and minutes

Stronger City Economy Scrutiny Panel
Tuesday, 24th January, 2017 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 3 - 3rd Floor - Civic Centre. View directions

Contact: Julia Cleary  01902 555046 Email:

No. Item




Apologies were received from Cllr Yardley.


Declarations of interest


Cllr Mak Singh declared an interest in that he worked for one of the training providers.


Minutes of previous meeting pdf icon PDF 88 KB

Additional documents:


Resolved:      That the minutes of the previous meeting be agreed as a correct record.


Matters arising


The Chair stated that she would like the Panel to look at visitor information and footfall again in more detail in the next municipal year and also the communications framework and marketing plan.


Presentation on the Wolverhampton Workbox

[To receive a presentation in relation to the Workbox]


The Chair welcomed Joanna Grocott, Project Manager and Angela McKeever, Head of Skills to the meeting.


Officers stated that the approach was important regarding helping people back into work and providing them with necessary skills. The Council needed to simplify and improve access for residents and businesses. The action plan contained three key areas and tools for residents and staff to enable more engagement with clients and those with low skills.


The Panel received a presentation in relation to the Wolverhampton Workbox. Officers stated that the Workbox represented a virtual front door that provided a one city, one brand, one offer base for clients. The scheme had been recognised as good practice by OFSTED.


The Workbox would help to address the skills gap in the City by supporting residents’ needs to access basic skills and match them against local provision and job opportunities along with local media tools. It was a tool that would help people to think and act differently regarding accessing skills, training and job opportunities.


Interest had already been shown by some over fifty organisations and the scheme had been showcased at the One City Event where feedback had also been received from over 90 parties.


The Workbox was currently being tested and a demonstration was provided to the Panel. The Council was currently working with providers to include videos advertising the Workbox on their websites. As the programme developed further it was intended to include more information on how the Council could act as a facilitator to broker services between businesses and providers and to track progress in relation to this.


The Panel thanked officers for the presentation and demonstration and stated that the success of the project would be very dependent on getting people to actually look at the website in the first instance. Officers stated that a lot of publicity would be carried out through social media and that there were 12 to 14 computer spaces in the hub that were never empty for people who were unable to access the internet at home. Additional support and publicity for the service would also be provided by hard publicity including through the voluntary sector and Wolverhampton homes. Officers stated that possible clients would also be approached through front line staff and be included in contracts with the voluntary and community services.


The Panel queried whether signing onto the Workbox website would count towards the DWP job search requirement. Officers confirmed that this would count and would help to provide a consistent approach.


The Panel considered that the Workbox was a very good tool for helping job seekers or low skilled adults or late learners but queried whether the Council was also approaching issues from the start and addressing problems at under performing schools and poor education both at school and in the home.

The Panel questioned what would make people want to use the Workbox. Officers stated that the Workbox was not a fix all solution but one of a number of tools and approaches  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Skills and Employment Update pdf icon PDF 158 KB

Additional documents:


The Panel received a report from the Head of Skills to update it on the skills and employment agenda in particular the Wolverhampton skills and employment action plan, the retention of high level skills, the Area review for Further Education skills and engaging businesses to take up training and skills opportunities.


The Action Plan had been developed outlining the following programmes:


·         Programme 1, the City Work Place:  aims to improve the support given to businesses to help them recruit, grow and retain skilled local people, resulting in more jobs and more successful enterprise.


·         Programme 2, the City Work Box: aims to create a virtual system that makes it easier for local people to obtain information, advice and guidance, resulting in more local people accessing local employment and progressing in the workplace.


·         Programme 3, the Learning City: initially aims to create a dynamic learning environment across the city centre, with strong connections into local communities.  This is the first step in putting learning at the heart of our city’s overall development.


Officers stated that they were also aware that residents were getting jobs but were not then able to keep them.


Care also had to be taken to not rush people into work and the Council was therefore working with the DWP to attempt a cultural shift to provide more support early on to get residents work ready first which might then enable them to stay in work for longer.


Some members considered that there were many jobs available in the transport industry but that it was hard to recruit people into these roles (bus drivers and HGV drivers) with very little focus on the skills required to do these jobs. Officers agreed that they would investigate this through the Council’s interaction with employers and it was thought that it might be just one of the areas where additional work was required and where there might a need for additional focus at college and university level. It was stated that work was also being done with HGV and Rail track and officers agreed to bring information regarding this to a future meeting of the Panel.


The Panel queried how the Council was addressing developments on the City boundaries such as on the border with Staffordshire County Council where there were thought to be around 2000 jobs in goods distribution and other sites in Telford, Shrewsbury and Walsall. Officers confirmed that the Council worked closely with other Councils and that this was especially true regarding those involved in the Combined Authority.


The Panel expressed some concern in relation to unpaid work placements as they were not always productive or fair. Officers stated that the workplace model was curtailed and limited to 2 to 8 weeks but was not a guarantee of a future job but an opportunity to gain skills and references. The Panel stated that it was important to ensure that workers were not exploited and used to fill gaps in the workforce with no chance of a permanent job or  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Briefing Note - Skills and Employment Statistical Update pdf icon PDF 150 KB


The Panel received a briefing note updating it on skills and employment statistics within Wolverhampton.


The Wolverhampton City Strategy 2011-2026 had set the target of achieving an employment rate of at least 70% by 2026 from a baseline of 61.2% in 2010.  The Panel queried how Wolverhampton compared to statistically similar areas and how wards compared with wards.


Resolved:      That the update be received.




Actions Against Recommendations from Scrutiny Review Employment and Skills 2015 pdf icon PDF 71 KB


Resolved:      That the update be noted.