Council projects scoop award for addressing skills gaps

Published Wednesday, 19th December 2018

Chloe Read, Amir Girnary, Lucie Babbington, Cllr James Courtenay, Daisy Smith and Caroline Reynolds – from the 60 Minute Mentor and A Better Start Southend Work Skills projects

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is celebrating after picking up a national award for two innovative projects.

The council scooped the Most Innovative Strategy award from the Institute of Economic Development (IED) – the UK’s leading independent body representing economic development and regeneration practitioners – at the IED Awards 2018 in London on Thursday 6 December.

The two projects that saw the council win the award are A Better Start Southend Work Skills and the 60 Minute Mentor South Essex. Each project offers different ways to address skills gaps across the borough, and further afield in south Essex.

A Better Start Southend Work Skills is a Big Lottery funded project which helps parents of young children and expectant parents develop skills and confidence for returning to work, training, volunteering or education. The aim is that with an improved family financial situation and happier home life, parents will have better opportunities for their own future and through this improving the lives of children under four. Various events and workshops were set up in community venues across the borough. Feedback from the project showed that 86% of attendees this year have said that as a result of attending the session they would be more likely to undertake training or look for employment.

The 60 Minute Mentor South Essex is an employer-led programme where local businesses and organisations provide aspirational role models to year 8 pupils from across south Essex. The pupils will have the opportunity to participate in four structured mentoring interventions, including two group mentoring sessions and two 1-2-1 mentoring sessions. Results from the project showed that 84% of students said they will try to work harder in lessons, and 84% of students said they will try and attend school more regularly.

Cllr James Courtenay, cabinet member for growth, said: “These two projects offer incredible support to adults and young people to address the skills gaps here in Southend, and also further afield in south Essex. We are always looking at innovative ways to provide different services for local people, and this award is a testament to the fantastic work council officers are doing within the borough.

“We are immensely proud of the staff who have worked so hard, but more importantly, we are delighted that the users of these services are reaping the benefits and are able to look forward to a brighter future. We must also thank the IED for recognising the difference these projects are making.

“This award is only the beginning and we will use this as motivation to really push on and continue to provide a much needed service across the borough.”

IED Chair Bev Hurley said: “We would like to congratulate Southend-on-Sea Borough Council on winning our Most Innovative Strategy award for 2018. Our judges were particularly impressed with the new, different and well-measured ways in which difficult to reach communities are re-engaged with the local economy.”

If anyone would like to find out more about the projects, or would like to get involved, please email the Economic Development Team