Unlocking Hertfordshire - Recovery Plan 2020

Read how we are supporting our employers, residents and young people through this recovery period.

The LEP have recently published their Recovery Plan  2020 - Unlocking Hertfordshire. The plan has three defined themes of 

  • Enterprise and Innovation
  • Skills and Creativity
  • International Trade and Investment

This article draws out the main themes of our Skills and Creativity recovery actions.

Our approach to Skills and Employment recovery

The pandemic has had a major impact on individuals and households, and on students, workers and communities. For younger adults, the challenges are especially acute; new graduates are struggling to find job opportunities while businesses may have less immediate capacity and inclination to take on apprentices and other school leavers. Hertfordshire’s ‘class of 2020’ needs to be recognised as particularly vulnerable to the direct and indirect effects of the pandemic. 

Older workers are also being forced to reconsider their assumptions about work. Many will need to seek new and different jobs, and to apply their skills in new ways for different employers – all of which signals upheaval, anxiety and uncertainty. Within this context, lower skilled adults are especially vulnerable; experience from previous recessions suggests that they are likely to become less employable and employers may be less willing to hold onto them, resulting in increased unemployment.

Our educational institutions are affected too – including our schools, the four further education colleges in Hertfordshire and the University of Hertfordshire. All are facing funding uncertainties and profound challenges to ‘normal’ approaches to teaching and learning.

In relation to skills and creativity, a third crucial constituency is our population of businesses and other employers. The extent to which they have the confidence to recruit and invest in their staff (through (re-)training) is critical to unlocking recovery. Some sectors are more likely to see job losses than others, and the crisis may well accelerate underlying trends which are leading to shifting skills needs in the economy, and in some cases to automation.

In seeking to accelerate economic recovery, our people matter hugely. We need to respond effectively. We need to match people with job opportunities, equip them with the skills to thrive in the future, and give employers the confidence to recruit and use those skills well.

The task is substantial, but we are working with partners to define and deliver our response.  In this context, the oversight role that is being provided by the Skills Advisory Panel (SAP) – which links businesses, providers and learners – is critical. 

Our intention is to work with Hertfordshire County Council, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and our SAP to revise the Hertfordshire Skills Strategy (and publish it by March 2021). This will be accompanied by an updated Labour Market Review 2020/2021 taking into the account the impact of COVID-19.

Beyond this, our immediate response is divided into two strands – one focusing on young people and the second which is targeted at those aged 24+.

Young people

We will use the tools available to us to provide substantive support to young people.  Within this, Hertfordshire Opportunities Portal (HOP) will play a key role.  Hertfordshire LEP has developed this over the last year and it provides a window on the job and training opportunities that are available across the county. It is a critical source of information which is freely available to all our young people and provides an easy portal for employers to seek the talent they need.


We intend to work alongside the government’s £2bn Kickstart programme, making it as relevant and accessible as possible to businesses in Hertfordshire.

The programme is designed to provide skills and work experience for disadvantaged young jobseekers.  The intention is that they should benefit from a subsidised job for six months which should then assist them (through the skills and experience they have acquired) in securing long-term unsubsidised employment.  The initial subsidised job will need to be additional and paid at or above minimum wage. 

The programme is a national one, but our intention is to make it as relevant as possible for employers in Hertfordshire. 

Specifically, we want smaller businesses from all sectors to consider engaging with it, as well as the larger ones. 

To this end, we intend to:

  • work alongside organisations like Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce, FSB, ICAEW, Hertfordshire Community Foundation, Growth Hub and Visit Herts to build awareness of, and links into, the national Kickstart programme
  • secure funding (from remaining European monies) to add skills/workforce advice to the Growth Hub’s business support packages, and provide signposting to Kickstart

As well as working alongside Kickstart, we will:

  • support apprenticeships, recognising the long-term importance of this pathway and the need to ensure that it is well and appropriately used, despite the challenges linked to the pandemic. Working with the national Redundancy Support Service for Apprentices (ReSSA), we will seek to enable any apprentices who have been made redundant to connect to new opportunities.  Using our networks, we will make more employers aware of the enhanced incentives (from government) to take on apprentices during the remainder of 2020.  We will also support the on-going work of the Apprenticeship Ambassador Network.
  • seek to increase careers provision in schools across Hertfordshire by creating a third Careers Hub (in addition to the two that already exist), thereby ensuring that the whole county benefits from enhanced provision. Evidence suggests that modest investment over and above the established Enterprise Advisers Network is delivering significant benefits.
  • work with our Further Education Colleges to make full use of the classroom-based offer (allowing 18 to 19 year olds who are struggling to find work in England the opportunity to study targeted high value level 2 and 3 courses throughout 2020-21; this is expected to include qualifications in ICT and construction (both of which link to areas of skills gaps and shortages identified before the pandemic)
  • work with the University of Hertfordshire (including through the Hertfordshire Opportunities Portal) to ensure that graduating students are aware of the opportunities that exist in Hertfordshire, both now and in the future. It is important, for example, that graduates in digital animation are fully aware of the opportunities that exist within Hertfordshire.

Older workers (aged 24+)

We intend to support older workers, particularly those that are needing to find a new job in a different field.  We also want to support those that are having to work for longer than they had been planning due to limited pension provision.

To these ends, we will:

  • work alongside national schemes such as the National Careers Service (NCS) to ensure that people in Hertfordshire aged 24+ benefit fully. In Hertfordshire, the NCS is being delivered by Futures and it is seeking to help those affected by COVID-19 to get back into work and training.
  • advance the ESF Response to Redundancy programme which is being delivered by Serco.
  • maximise the opportunities for sector-based work academies, drawing on a national programme which is receiving additional funding from DWP. These aim to provide short-term training to equip people facing redundancy to work in jobs in sectors which are seeking to recruit.
  • support various workforce development programmes, including, for example the ESF-funded skills support in the workforce (SSW) which is designed to upskill those in employment within SMEs, including in relation to digital skills and higher level qualifications.

We will consult with relevant stakeholders and use the Hertfordshire Opportunities Portal to provide a focus for the above services, delivering a coordinated offer under the banner ‘Employer Recovery Hub’.

In relation to older workers – and consistent with the key themes from our Local Industrial Strategy – we are also concerned particularly with the need to increase our digital skills.  These are relevant at all levels – from basic digital literacy through to advanced coding and data analytics.  Working with our colleges and University of Hertfordshire, and with major employers, digital skills will be an on-going priority.






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