Opening up the Labour Pool in South Tyneside
South Tyneside has a thriving economy with real specialisms in advanced manufacturing, the low carbon economy and hospitality and tourism in particular.
In December 2023 alone there were 1,614 unique job postings with significant vacancies noted across health and social care; manufacturing and engineering, hospitality and tourism, education and training and sales and customer service.
Despite many businesses looking at expansion and new investments, the borough’s employment levels continue to lag behind the regional and national average.
We know a key driver of this is people unable to access jobs due to health and other barriers.
With a working age population of 90,300, 63% of residents (56,500) are employed or self-employed.
4,100 residents are classed as ‘unemployed’ (4.6%), and 27,500 (30%) of 16-64 year olds are described ‘economically inactive’. A proportion of these are students 5,600 (22%), but over half are people on long term sick 11,100 (53%); and those looking after family or home 5,500 (22%). 1,900 residents have retired early.
Many residents have clearly chosen to study, retire or care for a family members, but for others it’s not a choice. Some people can’t afford childcare if they return to work or have given up on finding a job.
There are huge benefits to widening recruitment pools and hiring more diverse workforce. Openness to diversity widens access to the best talent. Inclusion allows engagement with talent effectively. Equality enables delivery of fair outcomes. Together, this leads to enhanced innovation, creativity, productivity, reputation, engagement and business results. People also want to work for employers with good employment practices. They also want to feel valued at work.
Supporting a Changing Workforce
The South Tyneside Pledge was launched to retain economic value within the borough, and we know this work is having a significant impact with Pledge organisations advertising jobs locally, utilising South Tyneside Works and taking part in careers fairs in the borough. Some great collaborations have been forged between Pledge organisations on student placements, work experience and careers programmes.
We still have more to do and the Council wants to work with employers to help them to understand how they can widen their recruitment and selection pools, encourage more local candidates, particularly those with diverse or additional needs. There is a wide range of information and advice to support businesses in doing so, some of which is details below.
Full details about the South Tyneside Pledge can be found at: https://investsouthtyneside.com/south-tyneside-pledge/
A neurodiverse candidate or employee is someone who has a neurodiverse condition such as dyslexia, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyspraxia, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), Tourette’s syndrome, and/or other neurological conditions. Over 15% of people in the UK are neurodiverse, however, for many people, their neurodiversity is considered a “hidden” condition.
While each neurodiverse person is different, there are specific strengths that are commonly associated with individual conditions. For example, an autistic candidate may demonstrate above-average levels of concentration, reliability, conscientiousness, and persistence. They may also pay incredibly close attention to detail.
As more companies recognize the value of including neurodiverse individuals in their organisations, competition for this talent will rise.
There is lots of information and advice online about creating the ideal interview setting for neurodivergent candidates, for example see: https://www.shrm.org/topics-tools/news/inclusion-equity-diversity/creating-ideal-interview-setting-neurodivergent-candidates
Carers primarily consist of mainly middle aged individuals, 30 to 50 year olds and overwhelmingly female, who are having to care for others at either end of the age spectrum or even both – so young children and/or elderly parents / relatives.
Many are committed to a career and personal development, but not at the cost of having to forsake their carer responsibilities.
Allowing part-time roles, job shares, four-day weeks, and remote working will make it more possible for this group to take up employment opportunities. Offering a strong employee benefits scheme which encompasses mental health support and carer leave would also be highly attractive to this group.
In South Tyneside, local employers can sign up for free access to Employers for Carers (EfC) Digital. The online support portal offers access to a range of dedicated resources and practical information and advice for managers, HR and other teams with employee wellbeing responsibilities as well as working carers. To get free access visit EfCDigital.org and sign up using the membership code EFC1953.
For more information see: https://southtyneside.gov.uk/article/10252/Carers-UK#overview
Access to Work
Access to Work is a publicly funded employment support grant scheme that aims to support disabled people start or stay in work.
Access to Work can support you to:
- hire disabled people with the skills you need
- retain an employee who develops a disability or health condition (keeping their valuable skills and saving both time and money recruiting a replacement)
- show that you value and will support your employees by having good employment policies and practices
Your employee can get support with the extra costs of working they may have because of their disability or health condition, for example:
- aid and equipment in the workplace
- adapting equipment to make it easier for them to use
- money towards any extra travel costs to and from work if they can’t use available public transport
- the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service
- other practical help at work, such as a job coach or a sign language interpreter
For further information visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/access-to-work-guide-for-employers/access-to-work-factsheet-for-employers
Disability Confident is creating a movement of change, encouraging employers to think differently about disability and take action to improve how they recruit, retain and develop disabled people.
Being Disability Confident is a unique opportunity to lead the way in your community, and you might just discover someone your business cannot do without.
It was developed by employers and disabled people’s representatives to make it rigorous but easily accessible, particularly for smaller businesses.
Many South Tyneside organisations have already signed up to this scheme including: Harlow Printing Limited, The Customs House, Zenith People Limited and KAEFER Limited to name a few.
‘ESCAPE-Pain’ (Enabling Self-management and Coping with Arthritic Pain using Exercise) is an exercise-based group rehabilitation program for people aged 45+ with chronic joint pain of the hip and knee. It is designed to improve function by integrating exercise, education, and self-management strategies to dispel inappropriate health beliefs, alter behaviour, and encourage regular physical activity.
South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust are member organisations of the group. Local employers can use this scheme to help employees with musculoskeletal problems to remain in the workplace.
The following website has more details, including locations of local classes: https://escape-pain.org/i-have-knee-hip-pain/find-a-local-class/
Attrition rates within some industries is currently high (such as the automotive industry) and businesses need to understand how to retain employees, particularly those with additional needs or adjustments.
The Council has some great schemes that local businesses can take advantage of:
Promoting a healthy workplace has considerable benefits for employers and can lead to decreased absenteeism, increased productivity and improved performance. It can also enhance an organisation’s reputation and standing with staff, stakeholders and the wider community. The Better Health at Work Award is a great initiative to sign up to that offers a range of information and advice. For more information: https://www.betterhealthatworkaward.org.uk/
A corporate leisure membership offers a discounted rate for employees across South Tyneside Council’s leisure centres and gyms when 6 or more people take out a membership.
Full details: https://www.southtyneside.gov.uk/article/4902/Overview
Support for Staff to Stay Fit and Healthy
South Tyneside Council also offers support for people to stay fit and healthy through its ‘a better u’ programme. This is about everyone in South Tyneside working together to help improve health and wellbeing which can be affected by everything around us.
Individuals and employers can sign up to become ‘a better u’ champion and receive fortnightly health and wellbeing bulletins containing lots of evidence-based health and wellbeing information from South Tyneside Public Health. This information can easily be disseminated to work colleagues, and family and friends too!
Full details can be found: https://www.southtyneside.gov.uk/article/15496/Support-to-stay-fit-and-healthy-a-better-u
South Tyneside Works
A new service has been launched by South Tyneside Works to support residents with health conditions and disabilities to access education, employment and training.
Support is tailored to the needs of the individual and includes activities that will develop essential skills needed to succeed in the workplace.
The range of support includes CV development and covering letters, interview preparation, travel training, signposting for specialist support, wellbeing, confidence and emotional resilience, work placements, vocational qualifications and supported job search.
Find out more by contacting: SouthTynesideWorks@southtyneside.gov.uk
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