Neighbourhood audits identify opportunities to improve training and career support

Improved support is to be offered to residents of Aberdeen’s regeneration areas to improve access to information about training and career related services and advice.

Members of Aberdeen City Council’s City Growth and Resources Committee yesterday (June 19) considered reports on five neighbourhood audits and agreed actions arising from them.

These include the creation of a digital solution to enhance access to information about support services, as well as further consideration of regular neighbourhood career and employability support sessions in key areas, and support and assistance to people who may not be able to return to employment. The Council will also work with partner agencies to improve the promotion of training and related services.

The neighbourhood audits were part of the £2.2million Progress Through Positive Partnerships employability project, which has secured £880,000 (40%) of funding through the European Structural Fund (ESF), and were designed to identify the needs of local people in the regeneration areas of Middlefield, Woodside, Tillydrone, Torry and Seaton.

Pathways Services was commissioned to carry out the audits and research which services local people wanted, key barriers to improving their lifestyles, individual aspirations and future service provision requirements.

The exercise also sought to identify what services the area residents were aware of locally and whether new and existing services could be better targeted.

Common themes ran through the responses across the city. These include a lack of understanding and knowledge of eligibility for in-work benefits, the need for greater promotion of available support and benefits, as well as for partner organisations to link up and have a presence in the localities to increase knowledge of and access to services. A need for affordable, accessible childcare in neighbourhoods in addition to a requirement for more training and particularly more locally-available training were also highlighted.

Cllr Gordon Graham, Vice-Convener of the City Growth and Resources Committee, said: “The neighbourhood audits have been important in gauging the current situation in our regeneration areas and the findings will inform the approach we take with our partners in relation to employability. It is essential we improve accessibility, break down barriers and open career opportunities.

“The findings will help us to do that and we’re committed to acting on them. What is clear is that we have to ensure there are opportunities for individuals to progress and work towards skilled employment. The audits also underlined the fact that in many cases the support required is available – but often people don’t know how to access it. That is an area the Council and its partners must improve upon.”

The Progress Through Positive Partnerships project is due to run until December 2018 but options to extend it by up to four years, utilising remaining ESF resources and associated additional match funding, are being explored.