Tough work for Brighton and Hove’s jobs principal

Posted On 05 Oct 2011 at 10:30 pm

For someone who heads the biggest vocational college in the area, it is only right that Phil Frier should care about jobs.

He does – and last night (Tuesday 4 October) he spelt out a bold and ambitious plan to boost employment across Brighton and Hove.

He shared his ideas with the great and the good of the city at Brighton and Hove Albion’s new stadium at Falmer.

Mr Frier has two close links with the stadium.

His catering students have just started running a weekday restaurant there, City College @ East Central Brasserie, serving good value business lunches.

And Albion chief executive Martin Perry, who led the stadium project, appointed Mr Frier to the principal’s job at City College Brighton and Hove four years ago.

As befits the venue, Mr Frier is a team player.

He lauded those like Tony Mernagh – the executive director of the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership and another speaker last night – who have contributed their ideas and expertise to the report.

It aims to answer a tough question in the current economic climate: How do we create 6,000 jobs in two years?

He said that Brighton and Hove needed to create 6,000 jobs just to stand still.

How come? As the report says: “The city may lose around 3,400 public and private sector jobs as a result of the coalition government’s deficit reduction programme and 2,700 of the projected additional working age residents will need jobs.”

Given the way people commute in to Brighton and Hove from the surrounding area – as well as commuting from the city to places such as Gatwick and London – he is conscious that many of the new jobs could be taken by people from outside the area.

His plan – the City Employment and Skills Plan – has been produced by the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership and the City Employment and Skills Steering Group.

Mr Frier, 59, is the relatively recently appointed chairman of the latter.

His colleagues will be hoping that he brings the same success as he has enjoyed in his day job, where he is responsible for 10,000 students.

Under his stewardship City College won praise from Ofsted, the official independent watchdog.

After an inspection in June its report said: “City College is a good college with outstanding leadership and management … The college’s development and use of partnerships are outstanding. Its use of links with employers provides tangible benefits to its learners, including opportunities for progression to jobs and the development of enterprise and employability skills.”

Now he is bringing those strengths to a broader stage.

His jobs strategy involves a focus on apprenticeships, eco-tech industries and jobs for graduates.

He said that at the moment too many graduates take entry-level jobs in shops, bars and restaurants that, anywhere else, would be taken by school leavers with relatively few qualifications.

Not surprisingly, given his background, he wants youngsters in particular to learn more skills.

He said: “The partnership of schools, colleges, adult education, private training providers and Jobcentre Plus will need to work even more closely together to achieve this overall ambition.”

When he was appointed, Amy Kennedy, the deputy leader of the new Green council and another speaker last night, paid tribute to the father of four. Like her, he hails from the North West.

She said: “Phil’s knowledge, experience and expertise as an education professional and his ability to forge effective links with the private, public and third sector will be invaluable.”

The plan outlined last night is the first test of those outstanding qualities.

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