The Manston Skills and Employment Board (MSE-Board) met virtually recently to push forward on a number of projects, despite the current restrictions on meeting in person.

The MSE-Board was established in January 2019 to ensure local people get the maximum benefit from the reopening of Manston Airport. RSP is committed to local recruitment and local procurement, and the MSE-B will ensure people from East Kent have the right skills to take the wide range of jobs that will be created.

Attending the call with RSP director Tony Freudmann and Dr Sally Dixon of Azimuth Associates were:

  • Paul Winter, Chair, Kent and Medway Skills Commission
  • Munya Badze, Enterprise Coordinator, The Enterprise People
  • David Foley, CEO, Thanet and East Kent Chamber
  • Tony Freudmann, Director, RSP
  • MJ Holloway, Cabinet Member, Dover District Council
  • Tim Ingleton, Head of Inward Investment, Dover District Council
  • Dan Graham for Tony March, Partnership Manager for Thanet, JobCentre Plus
  • Anne Nortcliffe, Director of Engineering Curriculum, CCCU
  • Jonathan Smith, Director of Stakeholder Engagement, East Kent Colleges
  • Ian Stockley, Councillor, Canterbury City Council
  • Jeanette Stockley, Sheriff, Canterbury City Council

Mike Rayner, who is the principal Lead for Post 16 education for The Education People, also attended – discussing how to provide the best possible offer for 16 to 19 year olds in education, and to ensure value for money. During the meeting, Jonathan Smith and Anne Nortcliffe provided an update on the skills agenda, highlighting how many Institutions are in dire straights financially at the moment and the group discussed the COVID-19 recovery and spoke about Kick Start, which is aimed at providing work experience for 16 to 24 year olds and is accessed via the local Chambers of Commerce.

Dr Sally Dixon, who has developed the MSE-Board initiative on RSP’s behalf said: “We heard in the meeting how the latest skills and unemployment figures for East Kent are worsening. In August 2020, unemployment for 18 to 24 year olds in Thanet was 17.5% compared to Sevenoaks at 8.1%. Qualification at NVQ4 was also considerably lower in Thanet than in other parts of Kent and so planning a robust skills and education strategy for Thanet’s future has perhaps never been more critical.”

Looking forward, a working group for the Manston Training Facility will be set up from the beginning of October and will include the EKC Group, CCCU and other MSE Board members. Once social distancing permits, a visit to Coca-Cola’s visitor centre, and to CEME in Essex is also set to be arranged.

The MSE-Board considers the future employment and skills needs of the airport following DCO approval, from planning and construction through to operation. The aim of the MSE-B is to ensure that Manston and associated businesses will have access to well-trained and experienced potential employees across a diverse range of skill sets. The MSE-B will do this by ensuring a comprehensive range of services are available to young people, job seekers and employers in the area around the airport.