Common Ground - Breaking New Ground


12/10/01 - 31/03/2009


Heather Waddington


United Kingdom

Development Partnership

Kirklees Council


Kirklees is the 3rd largest Metropolitan District in the UK, rich in diversity and great potential. SMEs make up 99.4% of its local businesses, making it very difficult to promote the benefits of a diverse work force. Activity focused on helping two key groups and ways to connect them: • People excluded or who were struggling to stay in the labour market • Employers who were reluctant to employ socially excluded people.


Common Ground looked at diversity as a whole rather than targeting specific groups with each project carefully tailored to meet the needs of local communities using a 'bottom up' approach. All activity aimed to establish a new understanding & co-operation between disadvantaged people seeking work & local employers. By working with employers, those most removed from the labour market, those finding it difficult to stay in jobs and/or progress, had their chances increased in gaining sustainable employment. This common approach taken by the Partnership is relevant to all projects across Europe with six emerging lessons, illustrated by a series of posters • Change begins with understanding others • Change begins with you • Take small steps - evolution not revolution • Think of the Bigger picture • Change needs to be sustainable • Welcome the diversity of diversity


Examples include • Reaching Common Ground booklet - lessons learned • Posters promoting the six key themes • Soft Outcomes Toolkit - a computerised system measuring people's soft skills & distance travelled • GRADES benchmarking toolkit • ChoiceKit toolkit - looking at redesigning & repackaging work


Common Ground took a holistic approach to tackling inequalities concentrating on actions which could be built in to everyday policy & practice. The project • Improved retention & progression routes by introducing increased flexibility & performance processes • Provided support to employers bringing to their attention sectors of their potential workforce which had much to offer but were not being recognised • Linking deprived communities to job opportunities and nearby growth