About… Civil Euro Perspective

CONTACT US! davidjepson@civileuroperspective.org.uk 

Civil Euro Perspective  to provide a vehicle for not for profit activities in the fields of economic development at community level in the UK, in other EU member states and on an international basis. Local communities must be at the heart of development whether in Kingston or Kabul, Swindon or Skopje. Too often, development projects are top down, driven by process and have huge overhead costs. Instead we want to channel expertise and experience at low cost, directly to the communities who need this.

Creating economic and employment opportunity for all and using the talents and skills of all communities is not only right it is also important for competitiveness.

It is also important that we draw on international experience, within the EU and beyond to inform our approach.

Civil Euro Perspective is a Community Interest Company, which means it cannot make a profit, only cover costs and cannot pass on any assets other than to a not for profit organisation.

Employment and economic opportunity for refugees is a major priority

Providing employment and economic opportunities,  for refugees and forced migrants should be central to our policy approach. By working more closely with employers, by providing more targeted training and by changing attitudes we can use talents and skills more effectively to the benefit of all.

Economic impact of the ageing population - the silver economy

Economic impact of the ageing population – the silver economy – older people and enterprise and employment This is a huge global issue and important for many localities.  We need to work with employers to ensure flexibility in work opportunities, help older people set up small businesses and make sure we ensure that market opportunities for new goods and services are taken.

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Brexit will have complex implications in terms of funding, policy, networking, access to knowledge, employment, education and training and free movement for UK stakeholders. There are lessons and implications for EU institutions too. It is vital that we retain and develop our networks within the EU and build new ones beyond to ensure we still have an outward looking future.

Up coming and recent activities

  • Training for regional development agency staff, in project preparation,  for European Association of Development Agencies, Brussels, 
  • Paper on “longevity as a driver for economic development” to be presented at a conference in Poland organised by ARRSA. 
  • On going policy advice and support to Ashley Community Housing / Himilo Training in relation to economic opportunity and employment for refugees
  • Presentation at the conference of the International Association on Forced Migration on labour market integration for refugees and third country nationals, with Suad Abdullahi, 
  • Ten drop in sessions for older people wishing to engage in enterprise, campaigning or volunteering, with support from Kickstarter programme of Bristol Ageing Better / UK National Lottery
  • Sustainable Development Goals and their application in Bristol; workshop as part of Big Green Week (biggreenweek.com/event/sustainable-development-goals-bristol-tale-two-cities). Member of Bristol SDG Alliance. 
  • Eurada conference on social innovation,  November 2016,  in Emilia Romana, Italy,  paper on social innovation and the labour market and the silver economy, http://www.agorada-bologna.com/david-jepson.html
  •  Paper on   Improving Employment Options for Refugees with a Higher Academic Background with Sara Withers, Himilo Training. 
  • Expert workshop to collect policy and strategy recommendations in Brussels for the EIP on AHA concerning barriers to policies concerning the ageing population. 
  • Interaction with the new Combined Authorities in West Midlands and West of England in relation to skills and refugees and migrants 
  • Workshops on #Rethinking Refugees, for ACH / Himilo Training, Bristol, Birmingham and Wolverhampton 
  • Participate in recent meetings of the European Migration Forum and Consultative Council of the European Asylum Support Office
  • Briefing Paper on “The Sustainable Development Goals: A framework for a future Bristol” with Ian Townsend of Bristol Green Capital Partnership
  • Facilitated workshop for international twinning link volunteers in Bristol in the context of Sustainable Development Goals and wider city priorities. 
  • Workshop on BME and women led businesses, facilitated work group on red tape and regulation. 

Current work  includes:

Employment and economic development integration for refugees and third country nationals: Support to Ashley Community Housing  (www.ashleyhousing.com) concerning employment and economic development support and policy development for refugees and third country nationals.

The Silver economy: older people and economic activities working with the Bristol Ageing Better partnership (bristolageingbetter.org.uk) and  we are part of the European Innovation Partnership for Active and Healthy Ageing (ec.europa.eu/research/innovation-union/index_en.cfm?section=active-healthy-ageing). We are also working with EURADA, European Association of Development Agencies (http://www.eurada.org) and the Development Agency for Bielsko – Biala, Poland, www.arrsa.pl)

Sustainable Development Goals were adopted in late 2015 and are universal. How do they apply here in the UK? In Bristol and the West of England? Working oH this with Black South West Network and others  within the Bristol SDG Alliance. (bswnsouthwest.wordpress.com),

Training for project preparation – looking at the main pitfalls of preparing project applications for participants from development agencies and business support organisations.

The role of culture in development – art and culture contributes much to the quality of urban life and also is a major driver of the economy. How can partnerships be formed to support this? How can public sector and private sector bodies work together and how can opportunities be shared across all communities?

Brexit! will have complex implications for many organisations in the UK and beyond. This will include not only funding and access to the single market but also access to networks and information, labour market and recruitment, freedom of movement, and influence and engagement with policies that will have an impact on the UK even after Brexit. A first step will be a short note on the implications of Brexit for refugees and migrants.

 

David Jepson

David Jepson is the Director of Civil Euro Perspective. 

David has worked in local development, employment and social policy consultancy for more than 25 years including qualitative evaluations and assessments, policy elaboration, institution and capacity building and training.

He is also  currently Chair of the Advisory Board of Civil European Perspectives, an NGO established in Macedonia in January 2014 and launched in April 2014, with the aim of implementing community focused projects in the fields of local economic development and governance. He is also member of the Senior Expert Panel of European Association of Development Agencies, EURADA. (www.eurada.org) David is also an associate with Consultancy.Coop which is a co-operative of experienced third sector consultants with a strongly business oriented approach, coupled with understanding of, and empathy with, the values and passion of this sector. (http://www.consultancy.coop)

He has worked in the UK, EU 27 and on an international basis including; Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Hungary, Slovak republic, Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Ukraine, Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo, Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, Afghanistan. He was a director of LRDP and a Senior Expert in charge of international projects in the field of employment and social policy for Ecorys, Netherlands.

David was a Visiting Research Fellow at the School for Social Policy at Anglia Ruskin University. He has also been a national expert in DG Research in the European Commission. He was director of the UK Leader network facilitating community led economic development in 50 localities.

David was an elected member of Birmingham City Council for more than ten years. David has been Chair of a Local Strategic Partnership, Director of Co-Enteprise, Director of West Midlands Enterprise, Midlands Arts Centre, Family Support Unit and many other bodies and governor of several schools.

Suad Abdullahi

Suad Abdullahi has been the training and employment manager at Ashley Community Housing and previously worked for the University of Bristol and Bristol City Council as well as SARI dealing with race hate.She has been directly involved in the management and coordination and delivery of training support as well as in undertaking analysis of the policy shortcomings of employment and economic development support offered both at national and local and regional level.

Suad has unique insight into the practical problems and policy shortcomings of support for refugees and migrants in relation to training and economic development. Suad is fluent in English, Somali and also Dutch. She has been Chair of the Somali Forum in Bristol as well as being a member of Bristol Women’s Voice and we have worked with her on a number of topics.

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Below find some recent commentary on Sustainable Development Goals, Brexit, Longevity and economic development, economic opportunities for refugees. 

The Sustainable Development Goals: A framework for a future Bristol

Purpose

This note outlines the important role that the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) could play in framing the Bristol’s long-term sustainable development, for use by the new Mayor and their administration, Bristol City Council and for stakeholders across our city.

Why are the SDGs useful?

The SDGs are universal and comprehensive. The UN agreed the SDGs in 2015 to guide global progress until 2030, but unlike previous initiatives these new goals are both universal, applying to developing and developed countries alike, and comprehensive, integrating environmental justice and climate change with social justice, poverty and inequality.

Bristol can pioneer SDG implementation. With sustainability high on the city’s agenda following Green Capital 2015, Bristol is well-placed to lead thinking at city level within the UK – and throughout the developed world.  Bristol is already a leader on addressing environmental sustainability and green issues, and the SDGs framework can help bring this together with the overcoming of deep-seated inequalities, social and economic injustice which is now high up the policy agenda in this unequal city.

Prioritising among the 17 Goals is an important and useful challenge. While the global SDG agenda is necessarily broad, certain Goal themes seem are real action priorities for Bristol. The Basque Declaration (April 2016) sets 10 specific objectives of relevance to local and city governments (see annex).

The SDG monitoring framework could help track city progress. The process of establishing indicators to check progress – overall, for specific vulnerable groups and spatially – is well underway and could be adapted to suit our city, forging a direct and strong link to the global SDG agenda.

The SDGs:

  • are comprehensive and universal.
  • offer a potential framework for integrated sustainable city development.
  • are a mechanism for ensuring policy coherence and synergy between environmental/green objectives and the need for equalities/economic and social cohesion.
  • are multi-sectoral, giving a holistic overall framework while allowing priorities to be selected and pursued through the more specific and detailed targets.
  • connect the community level with the city, the sub-region and the country, as well as the global agenda – reflecting Bristol’s wider role in the world.
  • link ongoing resilience work and offer a 2030 waypoint for long-term city strategies.
  • are an opportunity for Bristol to lead thinking, given limited attention to the SDGs at local and regional level within the UK (though this is increasing)

Why Bristol in particular?

Bristol has active local and international sustainable communities likely to be interested in a shared framework bringing them together. These include Bristol Green Capital Partnership and VOSCUR locally, and the South West International Development Network globally, among others. This also enables mutual learning and sharing back home of learning gained from international development research and practice, as well as promoting stronger Bristol-international city links, e.g. with diaspora communities.

Action needed

But we need action to put SDG implementation on the city’s agenda. Key stakeholders need to be encouraged to adopt the SDGs as a framework for our sustainable development and that the SDGs are “owned” by the stakeholders who will be implementing them. Technical work on indicators and benchmarks is also needed in relation to prioritised targets.

ANNEX A

Next steps?

The roadmap for localizing the SDGs prepared by UNDP, UN Habitat and the Global Task Force of Local Government,   foresees five parts: awareness, advocacy, implementation and monitoring. It also suggests that goal 11, sustainable cities and human settlements, is the lynchpin for the localizing process and that linking up SDG 11with the urban dimension of the other 16 goals will be an essential element.

Bristol has active local and international sustainable communities likely to be interested in a shared framework bringing them together. These include Bristol Green Capital Partnership and VOSCUR, Black South West Network, Bristol Women’s Voice and many other organisations concerned with equalities, locally, and the South West International Development Network, Twinning Networks and diaspora organisations such as the Somali Forum, , among others,  globally.  Next practical steps might include:

  • We need to put the promote awareness of SDGs and their practical application on the agenda of organisations across the city.
  • We need to “test” the relevance of the SDGs and specific targets with local stakeholders  and communities to ensure their relevance and that  they are widely “owned” not just by a few  specialist experts and advocating local need
  • We need to discuss, identify and choose within the priorities and the more detailed targets which are of most immediate relevance within the overall framework provided to provide a basis for implementation
  • We need key stakeholders to adopt the SDGs as a framework for development. We need technical work on indicators and benchmarks in relation to selected targets at least
  • We need to identify possible indicators, benchmarks and monitoring frameworks.

SDGs: A brief introduction

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), officially “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, are set of aspirations adopted on 25 September 2015 (in UN resolution A/RES/70/1). The SDGs build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were officially established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000. Unlike the MDGs the SDGs are both comprehensive and universal. They apply everywhere and not just in “developing countries”. Also, unlike the MDGs, which are said to have been drawn up by a group of men in UN HQ, the SDGs were informed by the largest UN consultation programme in its history to gauge opinion their content. However, awareness of the Goals being the international development community is limited, along with awareness of their implications and potential opportunities.

Within the 17 headline Goals (below), there are many more specific targets and indicators that flesh out the SDGs. For example, targets under SDG1 No Poverty include reducing by at least half the number of people living in under national poverty lines by 2030 as well as eradicating extreme poverty (currently people living on less than $1.25 a day). Under SDG5 Gender Equality there is a target to eliminate violence against women, while SDG16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions targets the promotion of the rule of law and equal access to justice.

Much has happened across since the SDGs were agreed last year.  While a great deal of initial ownership came from the environmental / green movement, social and economic cohesion and equalities are becoming increasingly central too.

At UK level, the Government has stated that it will publish a report on domestic and international implementation of the SDGs, and the Commons’ International Development Committee has published a report calling for a stronger domestic focus on the SDG agenda.

At European level, ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability, of which Bristol is a member), has developed campaigns, programmes, and projects to promote long-term strategic planning processes that address local sustainability while protecting global common goods. The Basque Declaration of April 2016 combines green and environmental aims with social justice and equalities through ten objectives (see annex).

The European Environment and Sustainability Councils Network outlines some of the challenges for European authorities at national and regional level. The German government has set up a national Council for Sustainable Development to undertake the essential groundwork for making progress on environmental conservation and safeguarding quality of life, and promoting social cohesion and economic development within society in an integrated form in Germany as well as internationally. Its objective is to find a fair and even balance between the needs of the present-day generation and the prospects of future generations.

At city level, for example,  Malmo City Council in Sweden have elaborated a sustainable city development strategy to deal with environmental and green issues, the built environment and also the social and economic inequalities (such as health and education outcomes) which are found there. New York City Council have adopted the  One New York Plan for a Strong and Just City which combines environmental and green aims with economic and social justice and a strongly collaborative and interactive process.

Annex B: Basque Declaration, Bilbao,  April 2016

We understand the need for transformation in order to:

  1. decarbonise our energy systems and reduce total energy consumption,
  2. create sustainable urban mobility patterns and accessibility for all,
  3. protect and enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services,
  4. reduce the use of greenfield land and natural space,
  5. protect water resources, water and air quality,
  6. adapt to climate change, and reduce the risk of disasters,
  7. improve public space to create convivial, safe, and vibrant environments,
  8. provide sufficient and adequate housing for all,
  9. guarantee the social inclusion and integration of all parts of the society,
  10. strengthen our local economies and local employment opportunities.

Further References

Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, UN, 2016

https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?menu=1300

One New York City, New York City Council,  2015

https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=onenyc+pdf

Malmo City Council: Sustainable City Development: 2016

http://malmo.se/English/Sustainable-City-Development-2016/Sustainable-City-Development.html

House of Commons, International Development Select Committee Report , 2016

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/international-development-committee/news-parliament-20151/sustainable-development-goals-report-published-16-17/

The role of National Sustainable Development Councils in Europe in Implementing  the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, 2015

http://www.eesc.europa.eu/?i=portal.en.events-and-activities-sustainable-development-goals-documents.37314

Bringing the goals back home: Implementing the SDGs in the UK., The Bond, 2015

https://www.bond.org.uk/resources/bringing-goals-home

The Basque Declaration 2016

http://conferences.sustainablecities.eu/basquecountry2016/declaration/

The German Council for Sustainable Development

https://www.nachhaltigkeitsrat.de/en/the-council/

Roadmap for localizing the SDGs, Implementation and monitoring at the sub national level,  UNDP, UN Habitat, Global Task Force of local and regional governments, 2016

http://unhabitat.org/roadmap-for-localizing-the-sdgs-implementation-and-monitoring-at-subnational-level/

Sustainable Cities:  http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/cities/

BREXIT and implications for refugees and migrants – an initial assessment, July 2016

FUNDING

A number of EU funding streams have been important in relation to the integration of refugees and asylum seekers into the community including concerning cultural dialogue, employment, training  and economic integration as well as human rights and access to public services.  For example ,  the recent AMIF programme (from EU DG Home) has been divided into a UK programme (so far entirely accessed by the Home Office only) and a trans national element with wider participation. EU ESF money has been used to support specific training and employment measures whilst other EU funding streams, including concerning social enterprise, urban pilot initiatives, horizon 2020 and many others have potential for supporting elements of policy development and delivery.

Brexit will probably mean loss of access to these streams, although the UK can negotiate access to some of them. The question here will be to what extent these funds will be replaced by national resources and to what extent they will be available to stakeholders at local and regional level?

POLICY

Refugee policy is primarily shaped in the UK and not by the EU, said Stephen Hale, Chief Executive of Refugees Action.  The decision about how well we support refugees in terms of integration is a matter for the UK, not Brussels. The number of Syrian refugees we choose to resettle is a matter for the UK. The country has long retained an opt-out from most EU asylum policies, including last September’s agreement that member states would absorb 160,000 asylum seekers relocated from Greece and Italy. The exception is the Dublin Regulation, which allowed the UK to return asylum seekers to the first country where they registered after arriving in Europe. Member states are unlikely to agree to returns from the UK in the wake of the referendum.

There are also possible consequences which though not directly linked to EU membership, for example a bilateral agreement with France, which allows Britain to implement border controls on French soil, has helped prevent thousands of migrants and refugees camped in Calais from reaching UK shores. Harlem Desir, French Secretary of State for European Affairs, said the Touquet Treaty is “a bilaterial agreement” so, there will be no blackmail, nor threat, but it’s true that we cooperate more easily in both being members of the EU.” Although the accord was struck independently of the EU, French politicians have in recent days described it as politically untenable in the wake of the referendum outcome.  Natacha Bouchart, mayor of Calais and a long-time critic of the treaty, has been vocal in her demands for legislative change since the result.. Europe Director of the Migration Policy Institute Elizabeth Collett said the EU’s near-impossible job of trying to get member states to agree on migration and asylum policies could be made somewhat easier by the UK’s exit. However, the EU stands to lose the UK’s influence with key countries of origin such as Nigeria and Pakistan, which are among 16 priority countries the EU has proposed partnering  with to stem migration.

The EU also puts forward policy suggestions such as recently included in the Action Plan for Third Country nationals which has been launched and advocates that employment and economic integration should be much more central to re integration. It also proposes a future blue card scheme through which refugees could be selected for integration in the context of identified skills and linked to labour market gaps. In the future how will the UK engage with such discussions?

So the fundamental elements of UK policy towards refugees will not be directly affected by Brexit but there can be a wide range of indirect consequences which need to be considered.

NETWORKS AND INFORMATION

Beyond access to finance from funding programmes, opportunities for networking, information exchange, discussion of good and bad practice are valuable mechanisms that the EU can offer to inform both policy and delivery in the UK. The European Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee have both played an important role here. The greater priority given by some member states, such as Sweden and the Netherlands, in facilitating employment opportunities for refugees is an important example.  Informal networks and lobby groups are also of value.

Brexit will probably mean that the UK will no longer have access to many of the formal networks and related organisations, although access to none EU networks such as via the OECD and informal networks may become a greater priority

EMPLOYMENT AND FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT

Once refugee status has been determined, some may now choose to relocate within EU member states and travel to the UK because of family links, better opportunities or other reasons. Others may leave the UK to relocated elsewhere.  It is very unclear as to whether this free movement of people will be possible after Brexit or not. The government must stress that the welcoming principles and legislation Britain had prior to Brexit remain in place.

INDIRECT IMPLICATIONS

Firstly, migration was one of the key issues of the referendum campaign and the subject of a number of controversial statements and images from the Brexit side. This did not in fact directly relate to refugees or asylum seekers but more to migrants from other EU member states. However, it is very likely to lead to feelings of insecurity and vulnerability to hate crime and related issues.  Free movement of peoples and access to the UK for migrant workers will be a central feature of the Brexit negotiations. The UK has been marginal to many of the key EU developments [on refugees], but I think there will be implications for rights of asylum seekers inside the UK,” commented Andrew Geddes, co-director of the Social Sciences Migration Research Group at Sheffield University. In a letter to the Times, the UK Refugee Council and others stated that “on refugees and asylum-seekers, we believe UK policy should stand for three core principles. Firstly, help more refugees find safety in the UK without having to risk their lives in the hands of people smugglers. Secondly, restore trust in the asylum system so all get a fair hearing and access the protection they need. Thirdly, support refugees to rebuild their lives, without fear of return to a place where their lives are at risk.”  Andrej Mahecic, from the UNHCR, said “we will continue to rely on the UK’s strong support for humanitarian responses to refugee crises. Our work with the government on the UK’s asylum system and refugee resettlement schemes continues.”

Secondly, the uncertainty following Brexit will impact on the economy in a number of ways including even lower interest rates, reduced and deferred investment decisions and slowing economic activity. It is very hard to say whether this will be a short or long term trend but will probably at least be the situation during the Brexit negotiations which will last for at least 2 years.  This is likely to have some level of impact on capacity to resettle and integrate refugees at least in the short term.

Sources:

https://www.irinnews.org/analysis/2016/06/27/what-does-brexit-mean-refugees

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2016/06/what-are-consequences-brexit-refugee-crisis

http://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/latest/news/4665_charities_call_for_humane_and_honest_immigration_discussion

http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/european-agenda-migration/proposal-implementation-package/docs/20160607/communication_action_plan_integration_third-country_nationals_en.pdf

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Longevity as a driver for economic development 

June 2016

  • The ageing population is a issue across the EU, the US and also for many middle income countries – a global challenge
  • At present, across the EU, there are four people of “working age” for every older person, by 2060 there will be only two!
  • In the UK, the number of people over 65 will increase by 65% in next 25 years.
  • In Poland there are now 3.5 workers for every retired person, by 2050 there will be less then 2
  • Age related public spending; pensions, health, social care are projected to rise significantly by up to 5% of GDP across the EU
  • This is a challenge which needs to be made into an opportunity and the “silver economy” needs priority at EU, national and regional level
  • We need to foster greater participation of older citizens, on a pan European basis, private sector and cross sector collaboration leading to age friendly innovation including take up of IT solutions
  • The Silver Economy can be defined as the economic opportunities arising from public and consumer expenditure related to population ageing and the specific needs of the population over 50
  • The ageing population can be sub divided, from the point of view of need patterns into; the active; the fragile and the dependent
  • It is estimated that the silver economy is worth $7 trillion globally – making it the third largest economy in the world.
  • Europe is well placed to benefit from this global trend through interventions to effectively foster new markets and stimulate growth and because of the strong interaction between public and private sector
  • Implications for employment and the labour market, HRD policies of large employers, adoption of IT, older people and enterprise.

* Introduction from presentation made in Bielsko-Biela, Poland, June 2016

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EMPLOYMENT AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY FOR REFUGEES / MIGRANTS IN THE BRISTOL AREA

Background Paper for OECD Meeting 26/1/16

Suad Abdullahi and David Jepson*

  • Bristol / West of England sub region has many advantages

Bristol and the surrounding area is known as the West of England. It has a population of just over one million people. The area is well connected by rail, road and air transport links, has four leading universities, international tourist attractions (Bath) and close to attractive coastline and countryside.

  • The economy of the area is also very successful – for most people.

The sub region share current share of national economic growth (GVA) is the highest of any core city region in the UK at 3.1%. The economy is worth more than £25b per year and contributes some £10b to the Treasury. Oxford Economics base line growth projects 65,000 jobs and 2.6% GVA growth to 2030 in the West of England, reflecting the fact that this is one of the most successful sub regions in the UK

  • It has a highly skilled workforce and high levels of employment

38.6% of the working age population educated to NVQ level 4 or higher and has the 3rd highest percentage of employees in the knowledge economy (excluding London), with 24% of employees compared to 19% for England. 48% of West of England workplace employees are managers, directors and senior officials; in professional occupations; or associate professional & technical occupations, compared to 44% nationally

  • Growth sectors have been identified as key to the future of the economy

These include low carbon industries, digital and media, high tech industries, advance engineering and aerospace and professional services  which require a highly skilled workforce(http://www.westofenglandlep.co.uk/assets/files/About%20Us/Strategic%20Plan/LEP225%20SEP%20All%20Final.pdf) At the same time, there are potentially recruitment / retention problems in other sectors such as social care, parts of retailing, leisure and tourism and also construction which are also essential to the well being of the region.

  • There is evidence of skill shortages in the region.

At the start of 2013, the REC / KPMG report on jobs showed 14 areas of skill shortage and by the 2014 this had risen to 47 and is accelerating (www.businesswest.co.uk/2014/02/13/uk-skill-shortages-expected-for-2014) and a recent survey has revealed that more than one in three small and medium sized manufacturers in the wider South West of England region are held back by skill shortages (www.djsresearch.co.uk)  and 45% of South West businesses surveyed are already experiencing skills gaps within their organisations and more than half (56 per cent) have been unable to fill vacancies over the past year as a result. (Princes trust 2014)

  • There is a challenge to overcome social and economic exclusion in this context

Despite the area’s increasing prosperity in recent years the West of England still has a significant number of localities and groups experiencing high levels of deprivation. There are 28 wards (local communities) with significantly above average workless people. Well documented barriers to employment remain education, lack of employability skills, disability, childcare, debt, digital exclusion and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) (West of England LEP). These are wards where significant training and employment development initiatives are of great support and are often resided by refugee communities and new migrants.

  • What is needed to enhance the employment and economic integration of refugees?

Much is already being delivered to enhance the employment and economic prospects of refugees /migrants within the Bristol area, much of this delivered by the community and voluntary sector. The area has successfully done this over the past ten years.  In order to respond to future and growing needs better and to maximise the benefits to the wider economy a number of steps can be identified. Some of the key activities include: skills development and training, the facilitation of refugee resettlement and ensuring integration takes place gradually.

  • Wider labour market analysis and skills matching

More coherent and strategic labour market analysis, linked to known skill shortages and also to the known skills and experience of refugees / migrants would allow a move away from passive and supply driven approaches to training and employment support to more targeted and pro active initiatives. This can be linked to the growth sectors in the area, the needs of other key sectors, employment potential in the SME sector and self employment.

  • Long Term Tracking of Refugees and migrants in the economy

In order to demonstrate the benefits of more pro active employment and training support, long term tracking and evaluation (for example over 5 years) beyond the immediate post support destination would be valuable. It would use known methodologies and would possibly find that enhanced training and employment support will lead to greater added value within the regional economy, higher payment of taxes / lower claiming of benefits and other support and a better quality of life for those individuals involved.

  • Facilitating social inclusion and integration opportunities for refugees

There is a clear need to create opportunities for integration through social and community based activities. There is currently a provision of this through Ashley Community Housing as well as the local Welcome Centre. There is support towards day to day basic needs such as accessing health, education and employment support services. There are also numerous opportunities to liaise and/or befriend local native speaking volunteers who offer their time and support.

Better links between the grassroots and organisations at city / sub regional level

Much of the activity in this area is currently being undertaken by the community and voluntary sector and enhanced links with local government (Bristol City Council and the other three municipalities in the sub region) would improve delivery.  The West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) operates at sub regional level and is a business led organisation. It is a conduit for significant UK government and EU funds relating to economic development and infrastructure provision. Better links to the relevant grassroots organisations are needed.

  • Exchange of good practise and sharing of knowledge in other EU member states and beyond.

We are aware of the huge potential to share knowledge and experience about this topic with counterparts at local / regional level in other EU member states and beyond. The EU, OECD and other bodies can play an important role in breaking down barriers and helping achieve this.

 

*Suad Abdullahi, Ashley Community Housing and David Jepson, Civil Euro Perspective