Crawley has the third highest jobs density in the UK, it’s one of the reasons why even in the midst of recessions we never had to deal with unemployment on any major scale. However, we don’t just want jobs, we want residents to have jobs which offer better pay, improved career prospects and which are resilient in the face of automation.
That’s no easy task, it involves attracting the private investment which will deliver the right job opportunities, bringing employers together with educators to provide the right set of skills and awakening in our residents the confidence they need that they are the right candidate for grasping those better opportunities.
All of these are things we are working to tackle. Our creation of the town’s first Jobs and Skills Plan, which led to the launch of Employ Crawley a few weeks ago, is designed specifically to tackle the skills/opportunity gap.
Some action was taken around the other two elements this week. On Thursday, Crawley ran it’s first ever investor tour, highlighting the strengths of the town and the locations where further investment would be of benefit to both residents and investors. Despite having to listen to an introduction from me, the feedback was very positive.
The next morning, I was glad to have the chance to attend ‘Be the Change’ at the Arora, part of a programme which attempts to help inspire young people to reach further with their ambitions. This largely takes the form of mentoring and in addition to providing some of the sponsorship of the event a number of council officers act as mentors in the programme. Last March we had the previous cohort of participants over to the Town Hall with their mentors, where I had a good chance to talk with them about the role of the council and their rights as citizens of the town.
There’s still a long way to go before we have the jobs market we want for the town, but bit-by-bit we’re making progress and giving residents access to opportunities they’ve never had before.