THE number of people without qualifications in Staffordshire has been reduced by 50 per cent over the last four years as the county continues to see near full employment.
Skills leaders say close working between the county council and local enterprise partnership means that the rate of people gaining qualifications in Staffordshire is now growing faster than it is nationally.
Today, latest figures issued by the Office for National Statistics confirm that Staffordshire continues to see near full employment. Those claiming out of work benefits account for just 1.3 per cent of the population, lower than both regional (2.9 per cent) and national (2.2 per cent) figures. The Staffordshire figure has remained the same for the last three months.
At the beginning of the academic year, Staffordshire was the sixth highest local authority area for reducing the number of 16 and 17-year-olds not in employment, education or training (NEETs).
The county council leads on work for the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP in boosting skills and employability with an investment of £37m over four years that has benefited over 15,000 people to date with a further 3,000 by December 2019. A third of those have progressed onto employment, apprenticeships, further education or training. The programme will have also supported 3,000 small and medium-sized businesses by the end of 2019.
The LEP, through colleges and training providers, established an advanced manufacturing and engineering hub. It has seen over 7,500 trainees and apprentices benefit.
Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for learning and skills Philip White said: “Increasing the skills and employment opportunities for people of all ages is a top priority to the county council and its partners.
“Staffordshire has improved considerably over the last two years in terms of reducing the number of NEETs. This has been achieved by delivering a good tracking and targeted support service for those most in need through early intervention. It has enabled our young people to gain the levels of skills and confidence needed to enter the employment market.
“It is always encouraging to see that we have near full employment in the county and we will, of course, continue to do all we can to ensure people can access better skilled, better-paid jobs.”