Barclays has today (11 Jun) announced the launch of its new economic growth initiative for smaller towns in Kilmarnock, Scotland. 

Kilmarnock has been chosen as the bank’s second local economy pilot location. Barclays will join forces with local leaders in the heart of the town across government, business and education to identify how to boost the local economy through a landmark study and over a three-year period, introduce bespoke programmes and support to help business growth, skills and training and aspirations and confidence.

As a first step, from August 2019, all secondary schools in Kilmarnock will have access to the bank’s LifeSkills programme, which aims to equip people with skills they need for the world of work. Barclays colleagues based in Scotland and Business in the Community (BITC) will host sessions for 12-14 year olds to build the skills that businesses require in Kilmarnock: communication, proactivity and adaptability. In addition to upskilling young people in Kilmarnock, Barclays will also be working with the community to identify support measures for adults facing challenges finding and staying in work.

With Barclays research revealing that only 36%* of businesses feel optimistic about the UK economy, the bank’s initiative seeks to shine a spotlight on regional growth opportunities so that local communities can become an engine room for job creation and the UK economy as a whole. The Scotland pilot will see the bank introduce bespoke actions for children and adults in the town of Kilmarnock over three years.

These will aim to boost aspirations and skills and help them be ready for the future world of work and match the skills that businesses are seeking.  The bank will also provide support for startups, development and growth of SMEs and entrepreneurs during the course of Thriving Local Economies.

The new commitment to the town of Kilmarnock is another investment in Scotland, following the recent news that Barclays will create 2,500 new jobs at its new technology campus in Glasgow.  

Launching the programme at a LifeSkills session at a school in Kilmarnock, Barclays CEO Jes Staley, said:

“If we want businesses and our economy to grow, and our young people to succeed, then we need to ensure investment in opportunities takes place not just in big cities, but also in communities like Kilmarnock, so that they can become the engine rooms of job creation and growth.

“As we double our Scottish workforce to 5,000 people, including through our major new campus in Glasgow, we want to ensure that there are employment opportunities for people from wider areas to benefit. And we know that helping to boost people’s employment skills often gives them that first chance to build a brighter career.

“That is why we’ve chosen Kilmarnock as our new location for our Thriving Local Economies programme that will see Barclays employees working with and learning from local schools and colleges, businesses and entrepreneurs, and help both young people and adults into employment. We want our work in Kilmarnock to discover the best ways to boost growth locally, and for wider communities too.”

The Scotland pilot in Kilmarnock follows the first local town economy study in 2018 in Bury, Greater Manchester programme.  Barclays will work with two further pilot areas in the five year programme: a rural community and coastal town, to gain a broad depth of understanding into how each type of local economy can grow.

*Research YouGov Feb 6th – March 7th 2019. Sample size: 501 UK businesses.

Building Thriving Local Economies

Building Thriving Local Economies will focus on understanding needs and opportunities on the ground in pilot sites in four different parts of the country, representing four different types of place (a metropolitan borough, a rural community, a coastal area and a smaller town). Each pilot will last for three years. Their launches will be staggered, meaning that the initiative overall is a five-year commitment.

The initiative will focus on four key areas:

  1. Understanding the Local Economy – it is really important for businesses and local decision-makers to understand the real strengths and opportunities in the local economy itself and as that local economy relates to the broader economy
  2. Skills and Training – it is vital that local people know the skills needed to maximise their potential in the jobs market and have opportunities to access the training needed to get them
  3. Aspiration and Confidence – having a sense of aspiration and self-confidence when looking for a job; particularly among school leavers is vital
  4. Growing Businesses – smaller businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, helping them grow will be crucial to our future economic success as a nation

In each pilot Barclays will undertake analysis of the local economy. This, in turn, will provide insight into the skills and training needs, driving aspiration and confidence, with the aim of helping businesses to grow. We will engage local decision-makers, schools and colleges, businesses and business groups to get their views. Working with these partners will inform specific actions which Barclays will commit to take under each of the four areas above.

Barclays will measure the impact of what we do, and share the results publicly at regular intervals. We will be transparent around where our actions have had success and, equally, where our intervention may not have had the impact we had hoped. We can learn as much from what fails as what works.

Barclays will share our learnings locally and with national decision-makers to help inform the debate about how we deliver the best economic model for our country and build a national framework of action.

LifeSkills in Kilmarnock

Starting in August 2019, all secondary schools in Kilmarnock will have access to four face to face sessions for all S2 students to access a bespoke programme from LifeSkills created with Barclays.  Business in The Community is one of Barclays charity partners and will deliver the sessions in Kilmarnock, alongside volunteers from Barclays. 

The motivation behind the LifeSkills programme is to inspire millions of young people and equip them with the key skills to move forward into the 21st century work place. LifeSkills brings together educators, businesses, young people and parents to achieve this, as increasingly young people need to leave education not only with appropriate academic results but with the skills that we know businesses need now and in the future as technology reshapes our working world.

Educators, including schools, colleges, universities, charities and youth groups, are provided with more than 60 hours of free curriculum linked employability resources, through videos, quick fire activities, interactive tools and full lesson plans to teach young people, as well as dozens of interactive tools for young people to learn in their own time or in conjunction with their parents through our dedicated parents section. 

The programme focuses on teaching skills such as CV writing, interview skills, networking, problem solving, creativity, resilience, communication and managing online reputation.

LifeSkills also provides free support to UK businesses to help improve access to work experience opportunities – giving young people the key skills and experience they need.

Already LifeSkills is raising the aspirations of young people as they feel more confident about the future and we are seeing evidence that young people are using what they have learnt to secure employment and manage their finances more effectively. More than 6.7 million young people have already participated in the programme, with plans to support an additional 10 million people between 2018 and 2022, through the expansion of the programme to all ages.

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