The Director for Tourism, Culture and Inward Investment submits a report that presents the latest Leicester Labour Market Partnership Review, and updates on the Leicester Textiles Renewal project which is funded by the Community Renewal Fund.
Members of the Commission are recommended to note the report and pass any comments to the Director for Tourism, Culture and Inward Investment.
The Deputy City Mayor for Transport, Clean Air and Climate Emergency introduced the item.
The Head of Economic Regeneration provided an overview of the report.
As part of the discussions, it was noted that:
· The former Chair of the Commission thanked and congratulated those involved in the partnership
· Hope for Justice be commended for their contributions
· A pipeline of courses for people to move onto following the completion of a course were available through ESOL with work underway to make this sustainable through potential funding from the Shared Prosperity Fund to help support the introduction of higher level courses for the medium and long term sustainability of the projects
· Businesses had also been enthusiastic to provide training to existing staff to deliver higher value work to develop their businesses further
· Fashion Enter Academy an experienced training provider, was a community resource to help develop local skills and provide employment for young people and have been delivering programmes with schools with the aim to build on this to encourage young people
In further discussions, concerns were raised with the unsustainable business model and pulling away form the industry. in response to the concerns raised, it was noted that:
· Companies in the industry were working on making changes towards sustainability with new innovative developments to move away from disposable fashion
· The over riding issue was the lack of regulation in this sector and the manufacturing sector and the authority could not let the sector within the city decline which provides employment for many in the city, but rather develop partnerships to improve the sector
Members of the Commission were pleased to see that the local authority were playing an active role in supporting the textiles industry, but suggested that this was not the only industry in the city that needed the support and what learning from this process could be taken to improve other sectors. It was noted that although the current focus was on the textiles industry, questions have been raised from partner agencies on other industries and that the Home Office were currently running a pilot in the city and that this methodology could be used and broadened further into other industries.
Members of the Commission suggested whether the introduction of certification or the good manufacturing certificate for good processes would help monitor the industry. The Head of Economic Regeneration noted that the fashion industry was already highly audited, and that each retailer had an auditing process as they were responsible for policing their supply chain and they invested in this area heavily. Following the independent compliance reviews, it was noted that 90% were performing very well and that areas such as environmental sustainability and management were areas that companies were aware that needed improving and that in the second round of support this could be implemented.
In response to the Chairs queries it was noted that:
· The Shared Prosperity fun had been submitted and response notification from this would be sent in October 2022 from the government.
· The environmental management of companies had been carried out through independent compliance reviews where companies had scored highly and following this, the information would be reviewed to see where there was opportunity to support on this further.
· National data was available for employment levels with access for local levels with the DWP. The issue for the local economy was that there were lots of vacancies in the economy so that the key intervention was developing skills where Fashion Enter had been focussed on developing skills within the sector
· Work was underway with wider community organisations providing engagement with locals through work with Justice in Fashion who had provided local surgery sessions
· A family fun pilot project was being developed to scope how there could be further support provided for the communities
· Fab L who were partially funded by TUC and other unions, based at the Highfields Centre had been building strong links with those who worked in the textiles industry and provided an element of representation to the workers and support workers on understanding their rights
· Both organisations had a wide audience and provided in depth details
· Primary Partnerships in the local schools provided local information and intel to co-produce solutions.
The Director for Tourism, Culture and Inward Investment took the opportunity to note that the labour market was currently in an unusual state. Although, low unemployment rates suggest this was good, but actually suggested that a number of people had taken themselves out of employment altogether and the number of people were economically inactive had risen.
Areas of employment that had low pay were losing staff to industries where the jobs provided better pay and were more appealing, the labour force had reduced, the number of people economically inactive had increased and the number of vacancies not being filled had also increased in all sectors. The report indicated that work was underway to engage with those who were economically inactive to potentially bring them back to being active, so there was capacity and opportunity there.
In response to the Members query on the 17 reports to UnseenUK it was noted that during Operation Tassit there had been 0 prosecutions under the Modern Slavery Act and further inquiries into subsequent reports could be requested.
1) The Chair thanked those involved in the extensive work carried out
2) That the report be noted; and
3) That a request for a follow up report come to the Commission for a future update.