Research published today by Seetec, an employee-owned business group, shows that, although the public is aware of the Government’s ‘Levelling Up’ agenda, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has a job on its hands to articulate what this agenda means for local communities.

A YouGov poll of 1,496 adults across England, commissioned by Seetec this week, found that 62% of the public had heard of the phrase ‘Levelling Up’. When asked what they thought the Government’s priorities should be in ‘Levelling Up’ across England, the most common results were: ‘Improve public health and wellbeing across all regions’ (46%); ‘Improve quality of life’ (38%); and ‘Increase job opportunities’ (37%).

When asked what measures would extend opportunity and prosperity in their region, most respondents focused on employment and skills support: ‘Work with employers to develop sector-specific employment support schemes to address labour shortages’ (28%); ‘Increase support for the long-term unemployed to find work’ (27%); and ‘Focus on reskilling opportunities’ (24%).

However, when asked what they thought was the most important priority for investing additional funding to ‘Level Up’ communities in England, the most common response was ‘Don’t know’ (21%). The next highest responses were to ‘Increase access to employment opportunities’ (15%) and ‘Skills training opportunities for those leaving school’ (10%). This indicates that employability and skills provision remain important to people as the economy recovers from the pandemic.

In terms of skills support, when asked which one area the Government should target as part of the ‘Levelling Up’ agenda, to deliver a more highly skilled workforce, the top responses were ‘Apprenticeships focused on industry need’ (21%) and ‘Traineeships focused on direct job opportunities’ (13%). However, 24% selected ‘Don’t know’, again underlining the need for the Government to engage with the public regarding its plans.

Commenting on the YouGov findings, Joel Charles, the Director of Policy, Communications and Public Affairs at Seetec, said:

“These results show that, whilst most of the public have heard about the ‘Levelling Up’ agenda, there is still a debate to be had about what this should mean in practice. Nonetheless, our polling results show public support for prioritising improvements to health and wellbeing, quality of life, and also increased access to skills and employment opportunities in their communities.

“The policy intent to tackle imbalances and inequalities within the regions of our country should be welcomed, but the Government must now put more meat on the bones of its vision to realise the ultimate goal of ‘Levelling Up’ communities as a key plank of the Prime Minister’s own domestic agenda. 

“The Government has clearly got a big communications job to reach these communities and explain its plans in the coming months. That’s why we’re calling for nation-wide public campaign to be launched to explain the Government’s priorities for ‘Levelling Up’, and to work more closely with local political and business leaders to boost growth, increase the regional skills base and help more people achieve their life ambitions.”

This polling data comes as Seetec has published its recommendations for delivering on the levelling up agenda, ahead of the Government’s expected White Paper. Seetec is calling for the Government to launch a nation-wide campaign to explain the ‘Levelling Up’ agenda and what it means for communities. The employee-owned business group believes the Government should undertake a nation-wide consultation with the public and business to better understand their priorities for ‘Levelling up’ their regions.

Seetec is also calling for the Government to give more powers to Metro Mayors to address skills and labour market challenges, and to support long-term jobseekers and disabled people to find and achieve sustained employment at a local level.

Ends

Notes To Editors

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The total sample size was 1,496 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12th - 15th November 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all adults in England (aged 18+).

For a copy of the full results please contact: [email protected]

The full list of Seetec’s recommendations to Government are as follows:

  • Create a ‘Levelling Up’ panel to oversee delivery of the White Paper’s policy intent and the funding to realise these ambitions – consisting of representatives from the Government, Local Government leaders, major regional employers in key sectors, skills and employability experts and infrastructure specialists: Greater collaboration between national and regional leaders is needed to agree the governance and funding arrangements necessary to realise the ambitions of the agenda. The panel terms of reference and membership could be agreed by the end of January 2022 to kick start the development of a detailed plan to carry forward the recommendations included in the White Paper. 
  • Launch a skills and labour market intervention scheme linked to specific sector need in the regions: The Government could work with employers in key sectors, Local Government and skills and employment providers to develop plans for a more longer-term interventions programme above what is already in place, specific to each of the regions, to address skills shortages to service local economies.
  • Set out a plan for a new devolution ‘Levelling Up’ deal for the regions in England: Work with the Metro Mayors, in particular, to agree new enhanced powers to address skills and labour market challenges hampering economic growth that are linked to their own plans. The new deal could also include measures to support long-term jobseekers and disabled people to find and achieve sustained employment at a local level.
  • Launch a nation-wide campaign to explain the ‘Levelling Up’ agenda and what it means for communities and sectors driving growth across the country: The Government could undertake a nation-wide consultation with the public and business to learn more about their priorities for the ‘Levelling Up’ agenda as YouGov has found that 62% of those polled in England have heard of the phrase. Although there is high recognition of the phrase, the Government needs to do more to engage with communities to explain what the agenda means for their community.  
  • Commit to publishing the ‘Sector Visions’ plan by the first quarter of 2022 to set out how the Government will work with industry to ensure the ‘Levelling Up’ White Paper meets the future workforce needs to boost growth and productivity in every region: To add momentum towards the recovery from COVID-19 and strengthen the direction of travel expected in the ‘Levelling Up’ White Paper, the Government’s ‘Sector Visions’ plan could be developed rapidly to set out how both can work in tandem to address the lack of opportunity in certain parts of the country to access training and be empowered to compete for more highly skilled jobs to meet demand in sectors that are growing.

About Seetec

Seetec is an employee-owned business group committed to supporting an economic and social recovery from COVID-19 that is built around the principles of inclusion and opportunity. Its vision is to create an inclusive society where individuals, employers and communities across all the regions of the UK and Ireland can thrive and fulfil their potential.

Originally founded in 1984, Seetec is a leading provider of employment, skills, justice and social care services. In 2020, Seetec supported 125,000 people through its Employability and Health, Irish, Justice and Skills business divisions:

  • Interventions Alliance, which works within the criminal justice system and social care sector, delivers evidence-led solutions that aim to help people build better futures and wellbeing. The business division recently opened five new Co-financing Organisation (CFO) Activity Hubs across three English regions to support individuals to continue on their rehabilitation journeys as they build a better future, turning a corner away from their criminal past. Part-funded by the European Social Fund, the CFO Activity Hubs in Manchester, Warrington, Liverpool, Bristol, and Chatham, with satellite provision at St Leonards-on-Sea, offer additional support to individuals transitioning from a formal criminal justice setting.
  • Its Employability and Health division is, through Seetec Pluss, a prime provider of the Government’s Work and Health Programme and the JETS (Job Entry Targeted Support) Scheme which is targeted at helping those who have lost their jobs during the pandemic. Pluss, an award-winning independent Community Interest Company that provides specialist support to inspire people of all abilities to achieve work and a career, forms a key part of this division too. It is a social enterprise working to ensuring nobody is left behind in our society. In April, the Government announced that Seetec Pluss had been awarded a prime contract (4a South West) and now also has four subcontracts to deliver the Restart Scheme, which helps Universal Credit claimants who have been out of work for at least 12 months to find sustainable employment. Over the life of the Restart contracts, Seetec Pluss expects to support up to 166,000 people across the prime and four subcontracts.
  • The Skills division offers adult education budget (AEB) opportunities, apprenticeships and traineeships. Through its new strategy, the division aims to provide a wrap-around service in regions to support individuals, communities, sectors and businesses to succeed. Last year the division launched Innovion, backed by leading engineering, manufacturing and technology businesses, to deliver high quality technical training and apprenticeships.
  • Seetec Ireland delivers Job Path, the Irish Government’s main job activation programme which supports the long-term unemployed to achieve their work ambitions across Dublin, West, North and North West, Midlands and North East regions. The business division was also recently certified as a Great Place To Work, receiving a 77% satisfaction score in a Trust Index Survey of 183 employees.

The business group currently holds an Ofsted inspection rating of ‘Good’, it is B Corp certified and has achieved the Gold Investors in People Award which only the top seven per cent of accredited organisations across the UK receive. With a workforce of over 2,500, it has an Employee Council and an Employee Trustee Director within its employee ownership structure, who support and work with the senior leadership to influence the direction of the business group which is committed to delivering first-class public and related commercial services.

For more information visit www.seetec.co.uk or follow Seetec on Twitter: @SeetecInspire