This week the headlines focus youth unemployment, NEETs, iRemploy for disabled workers, self-employment and older workers. Last week’s newsletter reported on the National Student Satisfaction Survey, traineeships, skills shortages and some of the things being done locally to address them, such as the Skills Support for the Workforce initiative and women in Higher Education and Leadership.

Youth unemployment has seen the largest annual fall since records began 30 years ago – alongside the steepest annual fall in unemployment in a quarter of a century, figures published recently by the Office for National Statistics show. Indeed, the number of young people who are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) is at 9-year low. Lord Young, now David Cameron’s Enterprise Adviser, is convinced the link between education and business has been eroded in the rush to go to university“We need to get young children believing in themselves”, he was quoted as saying recently. Which seems like a good time to introduce an insightful blog on the multiple scarring effects resulting from youth unemployment by Ronald McQuaid at the University of Stirling. Also a new report has been published by the Institute for Public Policy Research exploring lessons the UK can learn from European economies with better youth employment records. Specifically, the research looks at five critical elements of the school-to-work transition for young people – the role of employers, vocational education, apprenticeships, careers guidance, and the benefits system.

Young people with disabilities recently campaigned outside the houses of parliament for the right to learn, stating that post-16 education for those with physical or learning disabilities shouldn’t be a postcode lottery. Beyond education, there is hope in the form of iRemploy, which was launched by Remploy in April this year and has already helped more than 1,900 people who were facing significant barriers to getting a job or were at risk of falling out of employment because of their disability or health condition. “One of the main features of iRemploy is that it gives candidates control over their job searching and allows them to receive advice from a trained iAdvisor” said Maxine Moss-Black, Remploy’s head of Digital Services.

The number of workers categorised as self-employed has risen to its highest in 40 years, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Of people who were self-employed in 2009, 23 per cent were no longer so by 2014, the lowest outflow rate from self-employment for any period over the last 20 years. TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady commented on the analysis, pointing out that the growth in self-employment, rather than the result of an explosion of young entrepreneurs, is in fact largely among those over the age of 50. “It’s great that older people are using self-employment to stay working and earning as they approach and even pass their state pension age, even if many are doing this because they can’t afford to retire. But it’s worrying that much of the recent increase is due, as the ONS says, to the limited opportunities for people to move out of self-employment,” she said.

New figures reveal Watford, North Dorset and the Shetland Islands are leading the way against outdated stereotypes of older workers. These days, just 10 per cent of people over 65 still work full time. But in 1891 more than half, 57 per cent, did and many grafted well into their 80s and even 90s – particularly farm labourers, miners, servants and cleaners.

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National Headlines

TUC – Wages recovery reaching too few people
“It is good to see some signs of better pay awards for some in the private sector, but public sector workers continue to suffer from cuts to their living standards – and millions are still excluded from economic recovery.” – Frances O’Grady, TUC

Attitude of young job candidates ‘more important’ than academic scores
Employers put greater value on attitude than academic results when it comes to recruiting young people, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has found.

How important are GCSE grades when applying to university?
For some courses and institutions they’re ‘very important’ but for others they might be meaningless.

HEFCE welcomes streamlined TRAC Guidance
HEFCE welcomes the new streamlined guidance for the Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) published by the TRAC Development Group (TDG). This will apply for reporting from the academic year 2014-15 onwards.

Young People Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET), August 2014
There were 955,000 young people (aged from 16 to 24) in the UK who were Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET), a decrease of 20,000 from January to March 2014 and down 138,000 from a year earlier.

Government launches ‘Get In, Go Far’ apprenticeship initiative
Business secretary Vince Cable toured the country yesterday to launch the new government campaign, ‘Get In, Go Far’, to promote apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships – reasons to be cheerful
A major new apprenticeships campaign launches today and there’s plenty of proof as to why apprentices are a great route into the workplace.

Outlook remains healthy for UK manufacturers
Expectations for manufacturing output growth in the next three months are strong, despite an easing of pace over the past quarter, the latest CBI Industrial Trends Survey shows.

New Demos report on ESOL backs NIACE Manifesto
A new Demos report on improving ESOL provision has backed NIACE’s General Election 2015 Manifesto proposal for the introduction of Personal Skills Accounts, which alongside a major, independent review of funding in the adult skills system could help address capacity issues in the ESOL sector.

A4e ends £17m prisoner education contract citing budget constraints
The welfare-to-work provider A4e has prematurely pulled out of a £17m contract to deliver education and training to prisoners in 12 London prisons on the grounds that it was unable to run the contract at a profit.

Financial success linked to more women directors, research reveals
Just 40 per cent of business leaders believe the current quality of their organisation’s leadership is ‘high’, according to research from global talent management consultancy DDI.

Record numbers have university places confirmed
A record number of students have had their university places confirmed, figures from admissions body Ucas show.

Government plans to help employers identify high-value skills
Employers will have a clearer picture of the value of adult education in upskilling workers, under new proposals from the government.

Second Estimate of GDP, Q2 2014
GDP increased by 0.8% in Q2 2014, the second consecutive quarter-on-quarter increase of 0.8%. This figure is unrevised from the preliminary estimate of GDP published on 25 July 2014.

South West Headlines

Number of young people who are NEET at 9-year low
The number of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) in England fell by 125,000 compared to the same period last year.

Grads for Growth – Budding graduates help businesses bloom this summer!
With an array of graduate placements being supported across the region, the Grads for Growth team are proud to see more and more placements coming to fruition and look forward to success stories yet to be written.

UKCES welcomes the latest wave of employer-led apprenticeships
The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) recently welcomed the ‘Get In Go Far’ campaign launched by Vince Cable.

What India can teach the UK about further education
Whether it’s the use of simulators in lessons or fingerprinting to track attendance, there’s much UK colleges can learn from their Indian counterparts.

Solent Enterprise Zone businesses now eligible for up to £1m funding each
Businesses on or moving to the Solent Enterprise Zone at Daedalus have received a boost this week with news that they can now apply for up to £1m of funding each.

Swindon and Wiltshire LEP Clarifies Strategy for European Structural and Investment Fund
The Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has clarified its strategy for the European Structural and Investment Fund, and is welcoming local businesses to continue to engage with the plans.

High-quality vocational education is key to improving skills, now and in future
Joy Mercer, Director of Policy at the Association of Colleges responds to an announcement from Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt about Institutes of Technical Education.

Sharp drop in unemployment in Devon and Cornwall over past year
The number of people claiming unemployment benefit in Devon and Cornwall has fallen by one-third in the last year, official figure show.

Manufacturers call for Government to set up permanent infrastructure authority
Britain’s manufacturers are calling on the Government to create a permanent infrastructure authority to address the nation’s long-term strategic infrastructure requirements, bring coherence to debates on infrastructure challenges and encourage vitally needed investment to support growth and competitiveness.

Jobs figures reveal 800,000 under 24 year olds out of work
Calls have been made at a regional and national level to bolster youth employment after yesterday’s labour force figures showed there are still almost 800,000 under-24s out of work.

Unemployment falls but are women being left behind in economic recovery in Bristol?
More than 6,000 people have come off unemployment benefit across the Bristol area in the last year but fewer than a third of them were women.

Lack of skills are ‘harming business’
More than half of all businesses in the West have failed to hire the staff they need because they cannot find people with the right skills, it was revealed last night.

International Research Publications

Mapping youth transitions in Europe
Analyses the labour market situation of young people in Europe, focusing in particular on their school-to-work transition, while also monitoring their more general transition to adulthood. Investigates the ability of young people to remain in employment against the odds during the crisis and charts their transitions from temporary to permanent contracts. Concludes with a discussion on the strengths and weaknesses of selected policy measures.

The Europe report – a win-win situation
Considers how London’s economy would be affected by four different scenarios based on the UK’s relationship with Europe in 20 years time. London alone is currently the ninth biggest economy in western Europe and its £350bn economy represents 22.5 per cent of the entire UK economy.

Education and training is not up to the job, say quarter of Europeans in survey
A new Eurobarometer survey on the ‘European Area of Skills and Qualifications’ (Special Eurobarometer 417) shows that around a quarter (23%) of EU citizens feel that their education or training has not provided them with the skills to find a job in line with their qualifications. While over half of the respondents (56%) think their qualifications would be recognised in other Member States, 6% tried to work or study in another Member State but were unable to do so, either because their qualifications were not recognised by their prospective employer or education institution, or because the respondents lacked information about recognition of their qualifications abroad.

European Vacancy and Recruitment Report 2014 shows lower skilled workers face increasing difficulties to find a job
Low qualified workers encounter increasing difficulties to find a job, face lower job stability and are out-competed by medium-skilled workers even in elementary occupations. In contrast, job opportunities are growing in some high-skilled professions. These are the main findings of the European Vacancy and Recruitment Report 2014.

New European Skills Passport will facilitate recruitment in hospitality sector
The European Commission has just launched the “European Hospitality Skills Passport”, a tool developed to facilitate contact between jobseekers and employers in the hospitality and tourism sector in Europe. The “Skills Passport” allows workers and employers to overcome language barriers and to compare hospitality workers’ skills in order to facilitate recruitment. Hosted on the European Job Mobility Portal – EURES, the skills passport is available in all EU official languages. The passport will be extended to other sectors in the future.

New European adult learning platform goes into production
EPALE, the Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe, a new initiative funded by the European Commission is the latest development in the EU’s long-term commitment to promoting high quality adult learning in Europe. The platform will deliver a range of distinctive features, making it the main site for adult learning in Europe. The site will offer interactive networks, enabling users to link with others all around Europe, engage in discussions and exchange good practice. Future users can already get involved: they can help shape the content of the platform by taking the survey found on the EPALE site.

Eurydice report ‘Modernisation of Higher Education in Europe – Access, Retention and Employability’
Information gaps is holding back higher education. Not enough countries are using the information they collect on higher education to improve their universities and the opportunities they offer for students, according to a Eurydice report entitled Modernisation of Higher Education in Europe: Access, Retention and Employability published in May 2014.

UK Research Publications

Improving career opportunities for Britain’s young people
Looks at five critical elements of the school-to-work transition for young people – the role of employers, vocational education, apprenticeships, careers guidance, and the benefits system – and at lessons the UK can learn from European economies with better youth employment records.

Trends in undergraduate recruitment
Looks at recent trends in the recruitment of undergraduates in England, focussing on students from the UK and EU. Drawing on analysis of publicly available data, combined with evidence gathered from interviews and surveys of Universities UK members, the report provides an assessment of trends covering a period of significant change for universities. Including ongoing transition to a new funding system, reductions in public funding, and the impact of the economic downturn.

Stepping up – bridging local disability employment gaps
Calls for a bridging of the disability employment gap in local areas. Recommends that Local Authorities and LEPs should carry out comprehensive local disability needs analyses to identify local barriers to work faced by people with disabilities, health problems and impairments; place robust policies for bridging local disability employment gaps at the heart of economic strategies; integrate and align local and national provision, including joint working between agencies; ensure access to community-based stepping stone employment opportunities; and encourage public, private and voluntary sector organisations to develop new approaches to bridge the disability employment gap.

Higher ambitions summit – rapporteur report
A report of a conference on apprenticeships and vocational education as alternatives to higher education.

Engineering and technology – skills and demand in industry – annual survey 2014
Outlines current and planned levels of engineering and IT recruitment, the difficulties that employers are experiencing in recruiting the people they need and the skills gaps they find with the people that they employ. The results have been compared to previous years to show recent trends.

Community learning learner survey – additional analysis of participants following family learning courses
Based on additional analysis of the community learning learner survey, looking at who does a family learning course and the nature of the courses. Illustrates what learners say the impact the courses has had on their lives, on aspects such as: personal confidence; language, maths and practical skills; and, parenting, employment and further learning.

Stepping stones – the role of the voluntary sector in future welfare to work schemes
Argues that the Work Programme is failing many people with complex or multiple needs and is underutilising the skills and expertise of the charity sector.

The changing labour market 2 – women, low pay and gender equality in the emerging recovery
Analysis of national employment data and a survey of 1,003 low paid women. Looks at under-employment, self-employment, zero hours contracts and other low paid areas of work, which are increasingly taken up by women.

The changing graduate labour market – analysis using a new indication of graduate jobs
Details the development of a statistically-derived indicator for identifying graduate jobs, conceptually based on the skill requirements of jobs by their unit group occupational code. Uses representative survey data on skills utilisation and clustering methods for the classification. To demonstrate the indicator’s utility, the development of the British graduate labour market between two averaged periods, 1997/2001 and 2006/2012 is then analysed. The indicator performs better than existing indicators in validation tests.

Labour market outlook – summer 2014
Provides a quarterly update on key HR, economic and labour market statistics. The aim of the survey is to produce an industry-valued benchmark of key HR statistics that can be used by members, employers and government. The survey is based on responses from 1,026 employers. Argues that wage growth is expected to remain weak even though output is growing strongly and the jobs market is buoyant.

Financial inclusion annual monitoring report 2014
Measures changing levels of financial inclusion in Britain from 2013–17. Presents data on a range of indicators.

Large-scale immigration – its economic and demographic consequences for the UK
A thorough examination of the conflicting academic literature on the economic costs and benefits of immigration, providing new material for politicians and voters to consider as the general election approaches.

Industrial revolutions – capturing the growth potential
Looks at the potential of clusters for growth across the country. Reviews barriers to growth and sets out actions to overcome these barriers. Argues that, if key recommendations around skills, infrastructure and investment in innovation are not acted on, there is risk of an impact on the UK economy and the country’s global competitiveness.

Local Entreprise Partnerships – Latest

Remember the young ones – improving career opportunities for Britain’s young people
Looks at five critical elements of the school-to-work transition for young people – the role of employers, vocational education, apprenticeships, careers guidance, and the benefits system – and at lessons the UK can learn from European economies with better youth employment records.

The skills crunch – upskilling the workforce of the future
Reveals that 73 per cent of British businesses believe a skills crisis will hit the UK within the next three years, stating that “Employers are increasingly looking to the next generation to help fill the skills shortages they are facing. However, the research also shows that young people – particularly those who are currently unemployed – still face stigma and negative stereotyping from business leaders.” Also provides employer case studies which highlight the work programmes offered to young people.

Digital skills for tomorrow’s world – interim report
Concludes that “the importance of extending basic digital skills to all of the UK population is enormous” offering substantial benefits to the most marginalised social groups (the elderly, the disabled and the isolated). Failure to address this issue could lead to digital by default Government services excluding large sections of society. Accordingly the report calls upon Government to make “the necessary investment to extend basic digital skills to all of the UK population by 2020” sharing the costs of this transition with the private and third sectors.

Accelerating local economic growth – clusters and deals
Reflect on recent publications and announcements, and to consider what has been learned – and what is in danger of being forgotten – about the potentials and limitations of cluster growth in the wake of City and Growth Deals.

Does regional economic growth depend on proximity to urban centres?
Looks at the spatial patterns of regional economic growth in Europe over the 1995 to 2010 period. Found that regions containing large urban agglomerations grew significantly faster than those that did not. Proximity to large urban agglomerations was positively correlated to economic growth. Halving travel time to a large urban agglomeration was associated with a 0.2 to 0.4 percentage points increase in annual per capita growth. Showed that measures of population density were positively correlated to growth. By far the best predictor of growth between 1995 and 2010 was the maximum population density of a region.

Sector Skills Publications

The invisible workforce – employment practices in the cleaning sector – findings report
Examines employment practices in the cleaning sector in England, Scotland and Wales. Explores how employers comply with their equality obligations in the work place and respect human rights, focussing on standardised, non-domestic cleaning in the office, health, retail, transport and leisure sectors as the four largest users of cleaning services.


Women into Leadership, Fifth Annual Conference
17 September 2014, Central London

17/09/2014 – For all those interested in seeing leadership opportunities for women enhanced. Women into Leadership 2014 will examine how female leaders, at whatever grade, can enhance their relevant skills to become the leader they aspire to be. This year’s conference will draw on feedback from Women into Leadership 2013, as well as discussions that take place at this years’ planning meeting. The conference will offer hands-on advice and coaching on how to further develop your career in difficult times. You will hear from inspirational women of all grades and levels, within and outside the Civil Service. You’ll discuss together how you can manage the challenges of modern leadership and help ensure the Civil Service doesn’t lose momentum in recognising and rewarding female leaders.

The Skills Show, NEC
13 – 15 November 2014, Birmingham NEC

13/11/2014 – FREE to attend, The Skills Show provides young people with opportunities to discover what they are good at and what they enjoy, through hands-on experiences combined with practical advice and guidance, to help shape futures and transform lives.

Grow Gloucestershire – The Skills Show Experience
7 – 8 October 2014, The Centaur, Cheltenham Racecourse

07/10/2014 – Highlight the exciting career opportunities you have available and get face to face with potential apprentices, trainees and staff. Bring skills to life through inspirational ‘HAVE A GO’ activities. Talk to Gloucestershire’s young people about what it is really like to work in your sector. Raise your profile and promote your brand, products and services.

How to design powerful learning campaigns for your workplace
28 August 2014, Campaign for Learning, 24 Greencoat Place, Westminster, London, SW1P 1RD

28/08/2014 – Learning campaigns and events are a great way of raising the profile of learning and development in the workplace – but they can be so much more than that. Used strategically, they can help towards addressing a range of business problems and issues, and contribute to behaviour change.

Employer Ownership – Current Position and Future Prospects
with Michael Davis, Chief Executive of UKCES
23 September 2014, Campaign for Learning, 24 Greencoat Place, Westminster, London, SW1P 1RD

23/09/2014 – With the general election less than nine months away, this is an exciting moment discuss where the ’employer ownership of skills’ agenda has reached and what the prospects are for the future.

GET THE GRIT – A resilience workshop to develop a ‘growth mindset’ for all – training event
led by Jackie Beere OBE
12 November 2014, Campaign for Learning, 24 Greencoat Place, Westminster, London, SW1P 1RD

12/11/2014 – Raise achievement and improve wellbeing through resilience training with Jackie Beere, who has years of experience in coaching and personal development for children and teachers.

Motivated or Mandated – engaging adults in learning and supporting them to succeed
20 October 2014, London, UCU Office, Old Bakery, Carlow Street, London NW1 7LH

20/10/2014 – This conference will encourage dialogue between practitioners and researchers in order to explore the ways to motivate adults to engage and succeed in literacy and numeracy learning.

NIACE – FELTAG Session 1 – Meeting Learner’s Needs
9 September 2014, online – ref: BIS602A/0714

09/09/2014 – The government’s response to the FELTAG recommendations published on the 16 June confirmed the government’s commitment to the use of technology for learning. However, there are unanswered questions to how the FE and skills sector can meet the FELTAG challenge. Join us for the first in a series of free NIACE hosted webinars to discuss issues and practical solutions.

CIPD – Devon and Cornwall Branch Conference
1 October 2014, 09:45, Sandy Park Conference Centre, Sandy Park Way, Exeter, EX2 7NN

01/10/2014 – Delegates will be able to enjoy 2 fantastic Key note speakers and select from a menu of 12 mini seminars, workshops and master classes in Employment Law, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Health and Wellbeing and Learning and Development.

Cedefop – Skills needs anticipation and matching course
Turin, Italy, 20 – 24 October 2014
Deadline for applications – 15 September 2014

20/10/2014 – Cedefop co-organises a training and knowledge-sharing course on skills needs anticipation and matching with the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organisation (ITC-ILO), the Skills Development and Employability Unit of the ILO and the European Training Foundation (ETF).

Webinar – Engaging with NIACE’s general election manifesto
17 September 2014, online – ref: WEB002A2/0914

17/09/2014 – Webinar participants will hear from NIACE’s CEO, David Hughes, about the manifesto’s bold new proposals following recent reports confirming the urgent need for a skills-led economic recovery; including the 2013 OECD Survey of Adult Skills, the 2014 UKCES Employer Skills Survey and NIACE’s 2014 Participation Survey.

Webinar – Engaging with NIACE’s general election manifesto
2 September 2014, online – ref: WEB002A1/0914

02/09/2014 – Webinar participants will hear from NIACE’s CEO, David Hughes, about the manifesto’s bold new proposals following recent reports confirming the urgent need for a skills-led economic recovery; including the 2013 OECD Survey of Adult Skills, the 2014 UKCES Employer Skills Survey and NIACE’s 2014 Participation Survey.

Improving financial stability and efficiency in Higher Education – sustainability, alternative revenue streams and lean ways of working
19 November 2014, central London

19/11/2014 – Steve Egan, Deputy Chief Executive, HEFCE, will be speaking at this event, which will bring out latest thinking on making the Higher Education sector more efficient, and to increase financial stability at a time of considerable changes to university funding – focusing on options and implementation.

Next steps for the Research Excellence Framework
23 April 2015, central London

23/04/2015 – David Sweeney, Director, HEFCE will be speaking at this seminar, which is scheduled to follow publication of this year’s Research Excellence Framework (REF), the system by which the quality of research from UK HEIs is assessed – with significant implications for public funding for universities’ research, for benchmarking, and for academic reputation.

TUC Congress 2014
7-10 September 2014, BT Convention Centre, Kings Dock, Liverpool L3 4FP

07/09/2014 – Visitor application forms will be available from May.

HEFCE Annual Meeting 2014
16 October 2014, 09:30-13:00, Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG

16/10/2014 – The meeting offers an opportunity to learn more about current developments, HEFCE’s role and the challenges facing higher education. Booking for the event will open in August.

Welfare reform – creating effective local delivery partnerships
20 December 2014, Prospero House, Borough High Street, London SE1

20/12/2014 – This one day conference will provide an early opportunity to consider the updated Local Support Services Framework and will feature examples of best practice in the planning and delivery of services sharing learning from the Local Authority led pilots as well as drawing on the experience of housing associations, and third sector organisations in the delivery of budgeting support, debt advice, and financial inclusion inititatives, local welfare schemes, and digitial inclusion projects.

IfL Fellowship Research Programme
17th Oct 2014, Oxford

17/10/2014 – The IfL Fellowship Research Programme is designed to develop individuals’ research and publication skills.

Maths and English Conference
19 September 2014, Swindon

19/09/2014 – Targeted at maths and english tutors and managers. The aim of the event is to provide participants with a range of tools, resources and best practice which they will be able to take back to their own organisations. Much of the day will be interactive so participants will be expected to do some work! Contact Julia Falaki for further details.

The Skills Show Experience – Have a Go Exeter
22 October 2014, WestPoint Centre (Devon) Ltd, Clyst St Mary, Exeter, EX5 1DH

22/10/2014 – The SW Employment and Skills Partnership and partners are very excited to formally invite you to The Skills Show Experience Exeter 2014! The Employment and Skills Partnership are organising an event in Exeter in partnership with Devon County Council on 22nd October. We are currently working on a steering group in conjunction with Devon County Council, Careers South West and others regarding this World Skills UK Exeter event, and would be delighted if you could please complete the booking form and register your interest via the following link http://tsse-findafuture-devon.eventbrite.co.uk.

Skills, Employment and Growth Conference 2014 30th September, 2014, University of Salford
30/09/2014 – This one day conference will provide delegates a timely opportunity to debate whether Government proposals to reform skills and employment programmes will benefit learners, engage more employers and get more people back to work. This important conference will bring together key players from across the employment and skills spectrum, and with its unparalleled networking opportunities and key speakers, this event is one not be missed. Contact Elanor e.leach@salford.ac.uk

OECD LEED programme High-Level Capacity Building Seminar – Supporting youth in entrepreneurship
22-23 September 2014, Brussels, Belgium

22/09/2014 – The aim of this High-Level Capacity Building Seminar is have an international exchange of information on inclusive entrepreneurship actions across the European Union and on how the European Union Structural Funds can be used to support actions that combine entrepreneurship promotion and social inclusion. It will examine the how strategies for youth entrepreneurship can be designed and implemented including consideration of the connections with wider strategies for entrepreneurship and youth employment.

OECD LEED Programme Expert Seminar – What works, and what doesn’t? Evidence-based approaches to tackling disadvantage
October 2014, OECD Conference Centre, Paris

15/10/2014 – This expert seminar will focus on how countries can establish a policy framework to enable effective local action using an evidence-based approach, choosing between different measures at a time of limited resources. The latest evidence from OECD countries on ‘what works’ and ‘what doesn’t’ will be considered, with participants sharing their own experiences of what has been successful on the ground.