Written by Laura Hayfield, Head of Employment & Skills at Opportunity Sheffield, Sheffield City Council
This year’s Employability Day falls as Sheffield is showing recovery from the pandemic – the employment rate has just surpassed the rate from before the pandemic and the unemployment rate has dropped in consecutive quarters.
It is appropriate to use this day to celebrate the employability support professionals across Sheffield who work tirelessly to support people to move closer to and into the labour market and to progress in their jobs.
Sheffield benefits from a wide partnership of organisations who use their collective skills to make a difference to people’s lives through employment; they include a wide range of Voluntary and Community Organisations, Job Centres, training providers, colleges and universities, housing associations and private providers to name but a few.
Employment is such an important factor for wellbeing, not only in increasing an individual’s income but also improving health, life chances, skills and opportunities, for themselves, their families and the wider community.
There may be more 50% more vacancies than before the pandemic, but in the wake of social and economic disruption brought about by Covid, the barriers to employment seem more prominent than ever for many people.
Locally we have seen an increase in those citing multiple and complex barriers to employment, including mental health, lack of confidence / anxiety, caring responsibilities and a lack of basic skills and/or work experience. Supporting these individuals into sustained employment really is no simple task, even with central government policy support and funding through the Plan for Jobs.Laura Hayfield
In Sheffield we have long recognised the need for localised responses to employment, centred around community engagement, bespoke delivery and hands-on employer engagement. The legacy of this is an employability sector equipped with vast knowledge, experience, goodwill and capability to make things happen.
We continue to see great partnership work across the city, with our Jobcentre Plus/SCC jobs fairs, the new Youth Hubs and the Teacake Club serving as just a few examples. By drawing on our collective strengths and developing a more complementary offer, we can lay the foundations for a cohesive and overarching employment and skills strategy for the city.
There is plenty still to do and the landscape keeps changing, so this is not time to rest up. But we should reflect today on what we have achieved to date and appreciate the value the employability sector offers to Sheffield.
To this end, we look forward to building on our existing partnerships and strategic alliances, and developing new ones, in 2022 and beyond.Laura Hayfield