More than 60% of the London 2012 Olympic Games is to be staged in Newham and in 2011 Westfield Stratford City will open as Europe’s largest urban shopping centre.
This unparalleled regeneration has opened up a swathe of opportunities for the borough, which has historically been one of Britain’s most deprived areas.
For almost a decade, Newham LBC has been using this development opportunity to create partnerships with major retailers to reduce jobless figures.
These are not high-powered managerial positions but they do empower those who might not have worked for long periods of time or who have not ever had a job. It is about driving up ambition by giving people the training and experience to succeed.
Recently we have worked with Westfield and strategic partners to train and place some 250 people into work at the new John Lewis department store.
The deal, which will be supported through funding made possible through a Section 106 agreement, mirrors a previous initiative in which 100 people were placed into work at the then newly built Tesco in Beckton. Recruits received intensive pre-employment training - a year later and 90 staff were still working at the supermarket.
The success is largely because the retailers are shaping the scheme by identifying what their staffing needs are and how a bespoke employment programme can match those requirements. This has allowed us to put in place the relevant training for particular jobs rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, so people really are prepared for work.
We hope that other retailers across the borough are encouraged to adopt similar working practices.
One of the things that encouraged us is the enthusiasm from the companies themselves. They want to help the communities they serve and this is integral to our success in addressing sweeping issues such as poverty and class.
- Contact: Newham’s workplace team on 020 3373 1784
Joe Duckworth, chief executive Newham LBC