A North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group has launched to provide business resilience and get the region ready for recovery throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. It has a five point plan in place.
In our latest blog, Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), outlines the response in terms of keeping people in employment.
The impact of Coronavirus on the North East marketplace has been hard and fast. As such, it won’t surprise anyone that one of the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group’s immediate priorities is to ensure that businesses keep people in employment and avoid shedding jobs.
In the first instance we are working hard to signpost employers to relevant information and financial support so they have options. Similarly, we are directing employees to advice so they are fully aware of their rights.
Alongside this, we are coordinating a region-wide response to the more medium-term impact on jobs. This includes trying to capitalise on opportunities for redeployment; thinking about where there may be new and emerging roles; and supporting those who find themselves out of work both now and in the future.
Things are moving rapidly
This is a rapidly developing situation and it is hard to get a real reading on the current level of unemployment in the North East but we continue to gather intelligence and data, such as redundancy figures, and monitor the situation so we can provide appropriate interventions in a timely fashion. It’s likely we won’t have a true reflection until we are well past the other side of the lockdown.
It’s really important that anyone affected can make sense of the regular updates coming from central Government so we have coordinated a response via the North East Growth Hub. This provides an up to date resource that simplifies things and people can trust. It features frequently asked questions and there is an opportunity to speak to experts if there is something specific visitors to the Hub need help with.
Help at the right time
The recent Government interventions came at a very timely moment. The opportunity to furlough workers through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been a lifeline for a lot of companies and it has been very positive to see take up of this.
It’s also been good to see many organisations move their workforces to home working so they can keep trading. There is definitely a pattern emerging where staff are being moved to shorter hours to keep them on the payroll while business is quiet. Everything like this helps right now.
Redeployment will be crucial to keeping people in jobs. Some sectors such as retail and tourism have been severely impacted so it’s crucial we look at how the transferable skills available can be used elsewhere, particularly where resource might be tight, for example in the health and social care sector. With the right training and background checks this is achievable and something I believe businesses will quickly get their heads round.
We’re on your side
Everyone is anxious right now, even those with jobs who are wondering what the new world will look like post Coronavirus. My advice is to check out the wealth of excellent advice available, such as on the Government site and via organisations such as TUC, all of which can be found by visiting the North East Growth Hub website.
Ultimately, people can feel confident that this North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group is working with the North East Skills Advisory Panel and other partners to do absolutely everything it can to help the North East community weather this crisis and to make sure regional businesses remain well represented to Government.
To stay up to date with progress, follow @northeastlep on Twitter or visit the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group page. Lots of helpful support can also be found on the North East Growth Hub.