Regenerating the labour market at Wirral Waters
Globalisation and technology have led to some unprecedented change in our labour market, which today is dynamic and unpredictable. Alongside this, more young people than ever before are entering the job market, bringing stiff competition in some sectors.
It is becoming increasingly important for employers to invest in the right talent and ensure that its workforce is armed with the right skills to do the job well. So, how can young people ensure they are equipped to thrive in such an uncertain labour market?
Leading a Skills Revolution
There are currently, 729,000 young people (aged 16-24) in the UK who are not currently in education, employment or training (source: Labour Market Survey 2019). And, for those who do choose to stay on in formal education, around 1/5 of those aged 25-34-years are actually overeducated for the jobs they enter (source: Labour Force Survey, 2015).
There is clearly a skills gap which needs addressing. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development states that: “Skills have a profound relationship with economic and social outcomes… [They are] key to tackling inequality and promoting social mobility.”
In today’s fast-paced, globally mobile and multi-cultural world, the skills we arm young people with will make them more motivated and more likely to make a positive contribution to society.
Large regeneration projects, such as Wirral Waters, have a fantastic opportunity to reinvigorate the local and regional economies and increase inward investment, which can have very positive impact on business growth, employment and skills development.
Wirral Waters will see the regeneration and transformation of over 500 acres of derelict dockland into a sustainable location for local and international businesses. It will create more than 20,000 permanent jobs for the Liverpool City Region, as well as offer new housing opportunities. With this comes an inherent responsibility to make sure that young people from Wirral are trained and skilled to take advantage of the opportunities which lie ahead.
Livability is the sum of all the factors which contribute to a community’s quality of life; a fusion of the built and natural environment along with economic prosperity, social stability and educational opportunity.
Wirral Waters will be a place where people want to live and work and Peel L&P, the developer of Wirral Waters, has made a commitment to invest in local people and to use local labour during construction but this is just the beginning.
Wirral Waters has been designed to create a place which has ‘livability’, where communities are working together and supporting each other and where partnerships are formed which bring about economic regeneration and prosperity. A place which connects and benefits people of all ages and ensures that young people are equipped with real a sense of entrepreneurship and appropriate employability skills.
Partnerships in practice
Working with key partners, Wirral Chamber of Commerce wanted to ensure that local businesses and supply chain are able to access the significant pipeline of investment and development opportunities that are planned for Wirral Waters and those opportunities that exist across the Liverpool City Region.
Supported by Peel L&P, Morgan Sindall and a wide range of developers & contractors within the construction sector, The Wirral Chamber Construction Forum was established. It is paramount that local construction businesses have a forum to keep members updated on local developments, providing a forum that will inform, educate, upskill, share best practice and raise awareness of the construction capabilities that we have in Wirral.
Working with Wirral Met College and the dedicated Wirral Waters Construction Campus, The forum also wants to elevate the skills of construction workers across Wirral and the LCR so that the local supply chain is well-known and able to service the expected demand for regeneration and construction projects.
Peel L&P’s director of development at Wirral Waters and Forum member, Richard Mawdsley said: “Wirral Waters is part of the Mersey Waters Enterprise Zone, one of the first four Enterprise Zones in the UK, and this has been crucial in enabling us to focus heavily on local skills and jobs for local people.
“It is vital for regeneration projects, like Wirral Waters, to retain skills and investment locally and to pool resources and knowledge to ensure that we generate opportunities for the next generation of construction workers.
“The creation of The Forum has been fundamental to this as it has helped us to ensure that the local construction supply chains and construction students at Wirral Met College have access to these opportunities.”
Wirral Chamber of Commerce CEO, Paula Basnett, said: “Wirral Chamber will continue to work with Peel, Wirral Met College and other partners to ensure that our members and local businesses continue to have an active forum that supports and encourages local supply chain opportunities. We will continue to build collaborative partnerships so our members have the skills required to form part of a robust supply chain”
The opportunities for education and training at Wirral Waters are excellent, with access to further education, higher education, postgraduate qualification and apprenticeships. Peel L&P has already helped build the Wirral Met College Construction Campus on site and also has opportunities for students undertaking relevant construction and engineering courses.
Working with Wirral Met College, Peel L&P has helped drive changes to the curriculum so the students progressing from their study programmes can maximise job opportunities.
For example with the development of Belong’s state of the art dementia care facility will be the creation of 150 new jobs in work such as hair dressing, catering and health care, and with course focused on relevant skills we can ensure these jobs go to local people.
Peel L&P has also worked with the College to ensure their construction students have up to date skills, for example working with Heritage Buildings, Horticulture and Modular construction – skills that will be in high demand at Wirral Waters in the coming years.
By developing a coherent skills base, from school level through further and higher education and into employment, Peel L&P’s intention is to create a skilled and trained workforce for further projects at Wirral Waters.
Sue Higginson, Principal and Chief Executive of Wirral Met College said, “Wirral Met is very proud to be the education partner of Peel L&P for the Wirral Waters development. Our Wirral Waters Campus which was the first new building in the UK Enterprise Zone is dedicated to the training and development of the workforce that will build this vision.”