London, United Kingdom

Bringing People to Jobs: Runways to Work Programme

Stansted Airport Limited

February 10, 2009

Investing a community with long term skills to secure competitive and economic advantage.

Like most of her neighbors, for years Shivani and her husband Alok endured temporary jobs followed by longs periods of complete unemployment. Although they live only 40 miles from Stansted Airport, (which is the third largest airport in the UK as well as the fastest growing), until recently this divide seemed much larger.

Tower Hamlets, the London borough where Shivani and Alok live is located in East London, an area that is highly diverse and that historically, has one of the UK’s highest unemployment rates.

Runways To Work…
Aerial viewShivani and Aloks economic and employment situation dramatically improved when the British Airport Authority for Stansted realized that the rural location of the airport would present significant recruitment challenges as Stansted Airport is located on the borders of Essex and Hertfordshire in the London Cambridge Corridor.

The natural recruitment zone for employees (the area immediately around the Airport), seemed an unlikely source of labour. Poor turnout at British Airport Authority recruiting fairs in the Stansted region confirmed that the demographics of the surrounding communities would not be able to meet the labour needs of the rapidly expanding airport.

To address this labour shortage, the British Airport Authority appointed an Employment Strategy Manager to identify, contact and recruit previously untapped labour markets that would fill this need.

The highly diverse, densely populated and underemployed neighborhoods in North and East London offered enormous potential to create new labour markets.

Once this potential labour pool was identified, the British Airport Authority helped establish the North London and Stansted Airport Partnership. In January 2001 this partnership launched, “The Runways to Work Programme”.

A Good Deal for Everyone
The Runways to Work program was to designed to invest economically deprived and ethnically diverse communities of North and East London with the permanent skills and tools needed to enable them to fill the labour shortage that Stansted Airport was facing and obtain permanent long term employment.

With these definitive goals in mind, the program was structured to be highly practical and results driven. Job skill training was based on actual profiles provided by airport companies and divisions (such as retailing, security and catering) all of which were facing specific needs and projected vacancies. Runway to Work intended to provide their candidates with the skills and experience to apply and secure these jobs by the end of their training sessions.

Potential candidates were recruited through job fairs, recruitment drives and direct outreach through local community centers and neighborhood meeting points such as Jobseekers’ Allowance Centers.

While transportation to the airport from the Haringey/Tottenham area had always been available via the Stansted Express, the cost of the journey had been prohibitive for many community residents – a 1 way adult ticket from Tottenham Hale to Stansted is 14.00 pounds sterling or approximately 21.00USD. To overcome this, the Runways to Work Programme provided employees with a travel card for the first year. This particular initiative proved to be particularly important in contributing to the success of the participants by helping them bridge a traditional hurdle associated with returning to sustained employment.

The Runway to Work Programme strategy went beyond entry level placement and included targets and support to help participants use their new skills to achieve long-term career advancement.

To date, the Runway to Work Programme has helped over 200 North London residents overcome labour market barriers and numerous businesses located within the area find the trained employees they need.

In June 2002 the project was audited by an independent consultant appointed by the local governing municipal council. The report was extremely positive and established the partnerships as a best practice model for cross sector partnerships.

Making it Work for You:

  • Investments in employee recruitment and training creates a skilled workforce tailored to give busness the competitive advantage it needs for success
  • Subsidized transportation for job candidates and employees is an effective recruitment strategy and anticipates local infrastructure needs for future community development.
  • Public-private partnerships are most effective when there are clear wins for both parties. Think about how you can enhance your corporate profile and meet your business objectives while providing community investments, such as training and economic development
  • Runways to Work was an initiative led by business need. When launching a community-based project or initiative, look for practical approaches that can engage local business or industry since their support can be invaluable.