London has long been a centre for enterprise and success, and recent research suggests Camden remains at the forefront. As a borough, we are proud to have championed this transformation, with a new Knowledge Quarter helping drive UK-wide growth. But whilst many have prospered, we know more work is needed to ensure everyone benefits from these opportunities. It is unacceptable that children are more likely to grow up in poverty than not in growth areas like King’s Cross. Equally, significant unemployment and low-pay rates continue, despite there being more jobs than people in the borough.
The causes of inequalities start early and have huge repercussions on life chances. At school, without proper support, those unable to ‘jump through the hoops’ of academic education often found themselves almost permanently excluded from opportunities that such qualifications afford. Adult education and training budgets have also been woefully under resourced. Collectively, this system failure has not only been hugely detrimental to the individual – in terms of quality of life – but also to society as a whole as it is denied the social and economic contribution of that person’s fully realised potential.
This is not a natural state of affairs. It can and must be changed. Which is exactly what we’re trying to do here in Camden. In addition to driving improvements across Early Years support, STEAM education, and local apprenticeships, we’re working with businesses, partners across the public and third sectors, and local people to find new ways help residents secure good quality work.
As with so many complicated public policy challenges, a one-size-fits-all solution is not going to cut it. Good Work Camden gets that it has to be able and willing to provide a tailor-made service. That’s not frivolous – it’s good sense and great value for money. This isn’t ‘top-down’ stuff, either. We’ve spoken with residents and community leaders and in hearing what they’ve had to say, are building in partnership a programme of support which is responsive, easy to access, and available to all of this borough’s residents.
We’ve rolled out neighbourhood job hubs, so that the help people need is available where they need it. We’re building connections with local businesses and offering them support to help enable and create new local employment opportunities that can be seized upon by local people. We’re helping people prepare for interviews, or to find volunteering roles and training. We’re able to help with job-searches, online applications forms, and getting CVs into shape. And crucially, we’re not oblivious to the fact people have got lots going on in their lives preventing them from reaching for their goals. To that end we’re already trialling things like additional childcare packages, access to internet connected devices to tackle digital exclusion, and help managing the costs of travel around London.
We’ve also invested in neighbourhood enterprise training through the Rebel Business School, helping people get their business ideas off the ground.
Good Work Camden is here to stay, open to everyone who lives here, and – as the more than 800 residents who we’ve helped this past year find new jobs or start a business prove – is already transforming lives. Our next task is to convince government that for employment support to work it has to be local.
Cllr Danny Beales, Cabinet Member for Investing in Communities, Culture and an Inclusive Economy – Camden Council – 30.11.21