The following article was printed in Enfield Dispatch.
Seven years ago the Social Mobility Commission, which counted Baroness Tyler of Enfield as a member, found that “character and resilience” were the greatest determinants of social mobility.
Neither are very tangible but both are essential, especially given the more recent report published by the Enfield Poverty and Inequality Commission (EPIC).
Enfield Council acknowledges there is a problem, but how many involved realise they already have tried and tested solutions?
I moved to Enfield in 1998. Working for a local recruitment agency, I was given a tour of the borough and was fascinated to learn who would travel to the City or the West End for work, who wouldn’t, and what would
determine this. In 2009 I set up Recro Consulting, an employability and recruitment solutions business. Having recruited at senior levels across the public, private and voluntary sectors, I could see where gaps were, and I thought local authorities were best placed to address them.
After three years of trying we finally secured some funding and action to work with young people in Enfield. It was a tough gig; many felt lack of experience was holding them back. Many were interested in retail, but we tried to push them towards hospitality, which had vacancies, while retail was making redundancies.
We had amazing successes; more than half went into work and stayed there. On top of that, more than 25% went into sector-specific training. Richard Branson once said: “The way to be successful is to find out what successful people do and copy it.” We used to say this to students in schools.
Much of our work was pro bono, or taster sessions that led to more.
The Enfield North MP at the time, Nick de Bois, was pro-active in trying to help us. I remember a meeting we had with senior officials at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). They agreed to try and get some more
funding. I also met the minister for employment, who agreed we should be running the programme everywhere.
We only had funding for three programmes.
The agreement with DWP and the aspiration of the council was that these would be used as a pilot and then scaled up. The council was keen for this to be part of their response to the housing benefit cap. But then the funding was cut. This despite everyone we dealt with saying this was the most effective programme they had come across.
Many people we meet have been around the block – sent on numerous programmes that don’t help them get them a job.
Many employers are frustrated.
But Enfield doesn’t have to look far. A leap of faith is required by politicians and public servants.