The South East has the lowest International Labour Organisation (ILO) unemployment rate in the UK, yet the region also has the second highest number of people registered as unemployed, second only to London. As the ILO rate considers only those who are 'economically active' (looking for work and available for work) this indicates that a significant number of people in the region are unemployed and do not consider themselves able to work. Breakdown of the statistics shows a high proportion of exclusionary factors among the region's unemployed: disability claimants, long-term unemployed both in the 16-24 age group and those over 50, carers, those in areas of multiple deprivation, and certain ethnic groups. Purely private or public sectors solutions have been insufficient in dealing with the combined issues affecting employment for these groups.
Cultural Shift South East was instigated by the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) to address these barriers, employing a new enterprise and employment framework for excluded groups. A core element of the partnership is the multi-stakeholder participation in service design and delivery, supporting action-based learning and mentoring towards developing entrepreneurial solutions for inclusive employment.
The approach has been undertaken by Cultural Shift South East as a response to research into the nature and potential of social enterprise in the region. This research has become the basis for the regional approach to social enterprise policy development and has identified partnership with public agencies as a key factor in the long-term sustainability of the social enterprise sector as a whole.
Sector development Groups
Social enterprise unit