View from Sir Robin - Workplace, Westfield and Jobs
September 11, 2011
In the last couple of weeks we have seen the opening of the new Docklands Light Railway (DLR) extension from Stratford International to Woolwich and Beckton. Stratford is already the second most connected station in all of London and now you can go directly from Stratford to London City Airport, and hop on one of their daily flights to more than 30 destinations, including Zurich and New York. The new line also makes it easier to access Beckton, the University of East London Docklands campus and ExCeL.
Something that I’m sure did not escape your attention was the long anticipated opening of Westfield Stratford City, which opened its doors to the public on 13 September.
The biggest urban shopping centre in Europe shares the E20 postcode with the neighbouring residential apartments in the Athletes Village and EastEnders, turning the fictional Walford into the very real Westfield.
As well as amazing shops, bars and restaurants, Westfield represents more than just bricks and mortar; shoppers, tourists and visitors will bring further benefits to the wider local economy.
When outline planning permission for the development was given the go ahead in 2005, there was one reason why we thought it would benefit our borough. Westfield has not only regenerated large swathes of land but it has enabled us to help provide jobs and training for local people.
We have high levels of worklessness in the borough and we are committed to ensuring that our residents benefit from the opportunities that this and other exciting regeneration projects bring.
We set up Workplace, our job brokerage scheme, in 2007 for just this reason and since then it has helped more than 8,500 local people into work, by focusing on the needs of businesses and employers.
Thousands of jobs have been created as part of Westfield Stratford City. Waitrose, John Lewis and other retailers have blazed a trail in working with the council and, more specifically,
Workplace to ensure that Newham residents are best placed to access to the vacancies on offer.
I recently attended a Waitrose event to welcome their new recruits. I was so impressed by the level of enthusiasm that the Newham recruits had for their new roles and the pride they showed for being able to work for such a fantastic organisation – now based on their doorstep.
So far, more than 1,050 residents are now employed at stores in Westfield and this number is increasing every day as more and more stores confirm their job offers to successful applicants.
And with Christmas fast approaching it won’t be long before a second phase of recruitment begins to fill additional roles.
Together with Westfield, Job Centre Plus and Workplace are recruiting for more than 90 stores. When employers start their recruitment process, Workplace is there, highlighting the benefits of recruiting locally.
We have forged a strong partnership with Westfield, Seetec and other partners, which will seen us officially launch Skills Place Newham later this month. It offers pre- and post-employment training programmes and will provide industry-specific training in the fields of hospitality, customer services, retail and business administration, to name but a few.
Skills Place Newham has already been operating from a number of locations but this new facility at the gateway to the retail centre will enable employers and employees to access the relevant help in one place, helping us to turn jobs into fulfilling and rewarding careers.
Yet this is just the first phase of projects for this area – with the development of the International Quarter, there will be four million square feet of new commercial, office and hotel space providing thousands more jobs from 2014.
Rest assured, whatever regeneration opportunities happen in our borough, we will work to ensure that our residents are first in line to benefit.