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Insight: Securing Local Employment in Major Developments

Planning and regeneration publication Placemaking Resource has interviewed Fusion21's Chief Executive, Dave Neilson, about how to secure local employment in new developments.

Fusion21 has the skills, knowledge and expertise to drive social value through the planning and procurement system, and we do this through our Construction Futures initiative. This scheme supports local authorities, developers and contractors to implement target requirements and deliver training, employment and apprenticeship opportunities through the use of planning and procurement processes.

Read the article 'Securing local employment in major developments' below written by journalist Ben Kochan.

"Local employment targets should be included in planning permissions for major schemes, but provision of training is also important to ensure targets are met, finds Ben Kochan.

Major developments in an area will inevitably bring some jobs for the local population, but councils can secure commitments from developers and their contractors to maximise the local benefits. Commitments to local employment as part of the planning permission provide a framework, but work with the contractors on site and with local training providers is vital for commitments to be achieved, says Pamela Gosal, head of economic development at Milton Keynes Council. Ensuring that the local employment commitments apply to the final occupiers on the site is also important, she emphasises.

Here are four tips for securing local employment in new developments.

1. Secure local employment targets as part of planning permission

Councils should include a target for local employment as part of the S106 agreement to measure progress, says Jane Sherwood, head of economic development at Newham Council in east London. But she points out that a target is not legally enforceable.

The council has a general target for major developments coming forward in the borough that 30 per cent of jobs in construction and 50 per cent overall should be taken by local residents. "This target is, however, varied depending on the skill requirements of the development," she says.

2. Adopt a partnership approach with the developer and contractor

A partnership approach is required to help match the requirements of on-site employers with local skills. The developers and contractors need to understand that you are helping them to source skilled staff and not impeding their scheme, says Sherwood. She points out that Newham Council achieved 60 per cent local employment on the 210,000 square metre Westfield shopping centre development in Stratford, through its job brokerage activity.

Newham Council runs a brokerage organisation called Workplace, which works with developers to identify their skill requirements and match them with local people who have registered with them, explains Sherwood. "Workplace has links with all the various training providers, and on occasion developers come to us with specific skill requirements and special courses will be organised," she says.

3. Identify skill requirements

The starting point of any local employment initiative should be careful analysis of the nature of the jobs to be created by the developments and the skill requirements, says Dave Neilson, chief executive at Fusion21 a national procurement organisation and social enterprise working to deliver efficiencies and create social value through planning, procurement and regeneration. This analysis is attached to the planning permission as part of a skills and employment strategy, he points out.

This then needs to be refined, because different kinds of skills will be required at different phases of the development. The build out rate will also vary, depending on the nature of the development. "Private rented housing developments are constructed in a single phase," he points out, adding that the use of offsite construction methods is changing the skill requirements and the location of jobs.

4. Secure training commitments

Richard Macfarlane, an independent consultant who has worked with local authorities on local employment initiatives, says that commitments to provide training as part of S106 agreements are an effective way to secure local employment opportunities. This includes trainees employed on-site, as well as financial contributions towards training.

Fusion21 advises local authorities on the potential for training opportunities in schemes based on the size, type and duration of build, and value of the development. "This is then agreed with the developer and included in S106 agreements," Neilson explains. He points to the organisation’s work with housebuilder Crest Nicholson, which has agreed to ensure a minimum of 2,369 training weeks will be delivered on its 1,000 home Monksmoor Park development near Daventry, Northampton. "So far about 2,177 of these training weeks have been delivered," he says.

On large schemes, developers may be asked to make a financial contribution towards training centres, as happened on the 27 hectare King’s Cross development in central London (shown below), points out Macfarlane.

The S106 agreement negotiated by Camden Council requires the developer to provide a construction skills training centre, says councillor Phil Jones, the council’s cabinet member for regeneration. The council has a target that between 15 per cent and 30 per cent of jobs in the completed development are taken by residents in Camden and Islington, and to achieve that the developer is also providing a recruitment centre, which all employers on-site are required to use."

To find out how Fusion21 drives social value through the planning and procurement system click here.