A key city council initiative has helped more than 1,000 people into employment and more than 695 people into apprenticeships over the past two years.
Leicester to Work is part of the council’s wider Economic Action Plan, which helps to put the right conditions in place so that businesses can grow, including supporting employment and skills growth within the city.
To mark the success of the scheme, a celebration event was held at City Hall this week (11 March). City council apprentices and graduates who have benefited from Leicester to Work received certificates marking their part in the programme.
In the past two years, unemployment in Leicester has fallen by 1.1 per cent, from 6.3 per cent to 5.2 per cent. Sixty-eight graduate posts have been created within Leicester City Council, and more than 6,000 people have been supported through workshops, assisted to gain new qualifications or benefitted from one-to-one support.
As part of Leicester to Work, the Leicester Employment Hub has been set up to gather local job opportunities in one place, and works closely with businesses to run regular jobs and apprenticeship events. It also holds an annual apprenticeship graduation, celebrating the achievements of around 150 apprentice graduates each year.
City mayor Peter Soulsby said: “I’m really pleased that the city is benefitting from the considerable successes of Leicester to Work.
“We want to create as many opportunities as possible for both local people and businesses, so that our city continues to grow and prosper.
“We have led the way by developing an Economic Action Plan to invest in business initiatives and boost growth, and we have seen the plan work, driving inward investment as employers relocate to Leicester.
“Two years in to Leicester to Work and despite some challenging wider economic conditions, it’s clear that this scheme is thriving.”
Katie Ryan is a housing apprentice with the city council, working as a property maintenance operative. She signed up for the city council’s Women In Construction event, which provides free taster sessions in carpentry, tiling, plumbing, electrics and lots of other property maintenance trades.
“Afterwards, I was encouraged to apply for the housing apprenticeship scheme and successfully gained a place,” Katie says. “I currently work on site maintaining council properties and attend college each week.
“I really enjoy combining the experience I get from being on site with the knowledge I’m gaining from college. Carpentry is my favourite, but I’m looking forward to expanding my skill base further in all trades before I specialise.”
As well as helping jobseekers, graduates and apprentices of all ages, Leicester to Work has focused on providing opportunities for care leavers, disabled people, women and young people.
Initiatives such as the council’s Neighbourhood Improvement Scheme have helped jobseekers by offering a rolling programme of 10 six-month contracts, teaching the sort of practical skills they might need to go on to a job in construction. Since 2016, the city council has offered 95 jobs through this scheme, as well as 49 apprenticeships.
By supporting vulnerable families – both parents and children – the city council has also helped more than 230 adults to move into employment.
And the Employment and Travel Training service, which helps disabled people to develop the confidence they need to travel independently, practise interviews and learn new employment skills, has supported 226 individuals to gain employment, training or volunteering opportunities.
Peter Soulsby added: “Our future priorities for Leicester to Work include increasing the take-up of apprenticeships and retaining more of our graduates from local universities. We will also continue to support more vulnerable jobseekers such as care leavers, and we’ll increase the range of city council work experience and job opportunities available for priority groups.
“Our aim is ensure Leicester is a city of opportunity.”