Kirklees Council leads way in jobs creation

Mehoob Khan
Mehoob Khan

KIRKLEES Council helped create more jobs between 2010 and 2011 than any other local authority in West Yorkshire, statistics have revealed.

A total of 3,621 jobs were created, a 2.16 per cent increase from previous figures.

In an exclusive interview with the Reporter series, council chief executive Adrian Lythgo said he wanted to make clear that Kirklees still has a real economy as a ‘world class’ manufacturing area.

Outside of London, the district is the third most important for manufacturing in terms of how many people work within the sector.

And over 40 per cent of manufacturing takes place in North Kirklees.

Mr Lythgo said: “The reason we still make things is because of a strong set of engineering skills in North and South Kirklees.

“The critical mass of engineering skills means some of the businesses are absolutely world class.”

Council leader Mehboob Khan (Lab, Greenhead) said the Kirklees economy - worth £5.68bn - had seen the most growth in manufacturing, construction, business services, wholesale and retail.

Discussions between the council and local business owners and managing directors has helped Kirklees to support business growth across the district and also resulted in 4,538 new apprenticeships in 2011/2012 and more than 11,000 over the last three years.

More than 1,600 employers in Kirklees, in a variety of industries, have apprentices.

“What we have tried to do, what all three major parties have tried to do, is have a very senior dialogue with the owners and MDs of businesses in terms of what they need,” Mr Lythgo said.

The Employment and Skills board works with the council, colleges and the University of Huddersfield to determine which skills are needed for the future.

In addition, regular meetings are held between business leaders to help firms work with local companies in their supply chains instead of sourcing products and services outside the local authority.

Coun Khan said the council was also working with businesses to prevent redundancies and improve the skills of their workforces, and in a bid to tackle youth unemployment, the council was helping businesses and local schools work together to put sought-after skills into the curriculum.

Kirklees also has the country’s first council, university and private sector led enterprise and innovation centre, in Huddersfield, where firms can access resources and equipment they may not be able to afford individually.

“Innovation is what’s going to keep our local economy buoyant,” he added.

While the road ahead could still prove rough for both businesses and those seeking employment, Kirklees’s place at the top of the table was a much-needed boost for the local economy.