CASE STUDY 1: GLASGOW FORT PARTNERSHIP
Glasgow Fort is a £140 million, 70-acre retail development in the Greater Easterhouse area of Glasgow. On opening in autumn 2004, the development created 1,400 jobs and has an estimated annual employment turnover of 150 to 200 jobs.
Greater Easterhouse was the largest and the last of Glasgow's 4 peripheral estates. However, since the 1980s it has suffered from significant depopulation and is one of the most deprived areas in Scotland. It is characterised by high unemployment, low economic inactivity and a poor education and skills profile.
Aims and Objectives
The Glasgow Fort Partnership was set up to maximise the benefits of the development for the local community - principally the employment opportunities. However, the Partnership's activities have been wider with a view to maximising the social benefits and improving the image of Greater Easterhouse through the success of Glasgow Fort.
Activities and Structure
The Partnership's structure has been split between the strategic and the operational and this is illustrated in Figure A1.1.
Figure A1.1: Glasgow Fort Partnership Structure
Formalised in spring 2004, the strategic intervention between the local development company (now known as Glasgow East Regeneration Agency - GERA), the developer, the centre manager and the marketing agents has been central to the Partnership's achievements. The Glasgow Fort partners recognised that GERA's involvement was a win-win situation for them as GERA had:
- Access to a wide pool of potential recruits.
- Links to the wider community so bringing insight to how Glasgow Fort could engage with the wider community.
In terms of linking opportunity and need ( LOAN), the joint commitment and trust at the strategic level allowed the Partnership to benefit from the following:
- Use of the official Glasgow Fort brand for all Partnership activities.
- Weblink to the Glasgow Fort Partnership website from the Glasgow Fort website home page.
- Setting up of a dedicated recruitment office at Glasgow Fort.
- Letter of endorsement from the centre manager within the retailer induction packs that gave an outline of the Partnership's services and contact details.
Of the 9 operational interventions, the recruitment intervention has been the most prominent and a sub-partnership was set up between GERA, Jobcentre Plus, Careers Scotland and John Wheatley College to maximise the employment opportunities. Each brought strengths to the intervention:
- GERA - direct relationship with Glasgow Fort centre manager and retailers; access to wide pool of local labour; and strong links with local organisations.
- Jobcentre Plus - access to wide pool of local labour; and national agreements with some Glasgow Fort employers.
- Careers Scotland - links with local schools and young people.
- John Wheatley College - developed the pre-recruitment Glasgow Fort retail training programme.
Under the branding of the Glasgow Fort Recruitment Team, the 4 partners developed a full recruitment and training service to meet the needs of the local community and Glasgow Fort employers. The services available were:
- On-site recruitment office where residents could register their interest in a Glasgow Fort job and employers notify their vacancies.
- Jobs Fairs - attracting up to 40 employers and hundreds of local residents.
- Free advertising of job vacancies through a variety of channels such as the website, recruitment office, local Jobcentre Plus offices, local newspapers.
- Job matching service by matching residents who have registered their details with job specifications provided by employers.
- Interview support.
- Pre-recruitment and workforce development training programmes.
The partnership process has been designed to limit the potentially unmanageable demands on Glasgow Fort from both the Partnership's 18 member organisations and external organisations. To overcome this GERA has adopted a gatekeeper role. All requests of Glasgow Fort are to be directed through 2 key personnel: the project manager and the business liaison officer. As a result:
- The number of demands on the Glasgow Fort centre manager and employers are kept to a minimum.
- All demands come via one agreed channel - i.e. the project manager.
- The partnership structure is maintained.
Engaging with Beneficiaries
A survey of local residents found that, despite construction already well under way, there was a significant lack of awareness and interest shown in Glasgow Fort. A wide range of media has therefore been used to promote the Glasgow Fort opportunities locally. These include:
- Hand delivery of 14,000 'Look What's Coming Your Way…..' leaflets to all Greater Easterhouse households. Importantly the leaflet promoted the Glasgow Fort brand rather than the employability support services to be more enticing.
- Dedicated 4-page Glasgow Fort supplements in the Greater Easterhouse Social Inclusion Partnership ( SIP) area magazine.
- Community websites, local newspapers, radio stations and a double-decker promotional bus.
Engaging with Developers, Contractors and End-Use Employers
To engage with the developer and centre manager, GERA took a pro-active approach and sought to arrange meetings with key partners to discuss any common ground. Through these discussions, the strategic partnership developed which helped when later engaging with the employers. The letter of endorsement and induction pack, as well as notification from the centre manager when new employers were moving into Glasgow Fort, acted as an 'in' for the Partnership. However, in practice, engaging with and maintaining the relationship with the 60 employers on site has revolved around:
- Providing a professional recruitment and training service that meets employer requirements.
- Treating every employer on an individual basis - recognising that different employers have different ways of operating.
- Assisting employers with any wider issues by acting as the interface with the other Partnership operational interventions.
- Maintaining regular contact with employers through attending tenant meetings and making store visits.
Funding for this LOAN approach has been relatively light. The project manager has a wider job remit within GERA and the posts of the business liaison officer and a GERA recruitment officer are funded through an European Social Fund ( ESF) project. Jobcentre Plus and Careers Scotland staffing inputs have been diverted from existing funds.
Sustainability of Approach
Recruitment volumes have inevitably fallen since Glasgow Fort's opening but the Partnership's recruitment intervention has continued - though with a slight change in focus. However, Phase 2 expansion plans for Glasgow Fort have been submitted and the Partnership will be used to fill the vacancies created from that.
- Recruitment efforts centre on filling turnover vacancies with an annual recruitment event in September prior to the Christmas vacancies.
- People interested in working at Glasgow Fort can continue to register with the recruitment service.
- A Retail Scottish Vocational Qualification ( SVQ) training programme is now delivered through Microcom Training to support Glasgow Fort employees in their career progression.
- To manage resources effectively, contact with individual employers varies between regular contact and periodic contact - depending on employer preference.
Assessing Good Practice
Outcomes and Impacts
In terms of recruitment:
- The opening of Glasgow Fort and the initial recruitment surge between autumn 2004 and May 2005 saw the Recruitment Team fill 767 vacancies; 44% of these were Greater Easterhouse residents.
- Between May 2005 and March 2008, a further 967 vacancies have been filled; 66% of these were Greater Easterhouse residents.
In terms of workforce development and again reflecting how the Partnership has evolved, the Retail SVQ training programme has had 34 completers since it began in 2006.
The main successes of the approach are:
- The recruitment figures outlined above.
- Engaging beneficiaries with 2,520 registering an interest by March 2005 and up to 900 attending the jobs fairs. By March 2008, 16,120 applications have been received for Glasgow Fort vacancies.
- Progress made in each of the 9 operational interventions. These include assisting a local social economy organisation to secure landscaping contracts at Glasgow Fort; a Boots Childcare Discount Card for local childcare providers; and changes to public transport routes to better serve Glasgow Fort.
- Sustained relationships with the centre manager and the Glasgow Fort employers.
The main weakness of the approach are:
- Although some 49 local residents gained employment during the construction of Glasgow Fort, the construction phase is generally viewed as a missed opportunity. The Partnership was not fully operational at that time and contact with the main contractor, Laing O'Rourke, was made at a relatively late stage. If Phase 2 goes ahead, early engagement and a 'best endeavour' clause would be sought from the contractor.
The key improvements identified were:
- The need for earlier and more coordinated activity to maximise the construction phase opportunities.
- An additional key personnel position with responsibility for aftercare services and managing information to and from employers.
- Improved management information systems as there is currently limited information on the retention and progression of recruits.
Transferability of Approach
While other approaches need not have 9 operational interventions, the LOAN approach used by the Glasgow Fort Partnership could certainly be used elsewhere. While developed here around a retail development, the approach could equally be used in other sectors - such as leisure and hospitality.
The key lessons to be taken from the approach are:
- The level of commitment and trust shown by the developer and centre managers brings invaluable credibility to an approach.
- It is important to recognise that there are 2 customers - the employers and the local community.
- A dedicated recruitment team is required to handle the large number of vacancies.
- A gatekeeper role helps maintain a Partnership and partners' commitment to it.
- The skillsets of the staff are critically important. In this initiative the leadership, enthusiasm and vision of the project manager, allied to the retail background of the business liaison officer, enabled the key personnel to deliver.