London City Airport plays a key role in supporting the activity and growth of London’s economy. Located in East London, it is the UK’s leading business airport and it makes a significant contribution to the economy of the local area, providing more than 2,000 jobs through its own operations and the 55 employers based onsite.
Since setting up a dedicated Community Relations Team in 1995, the company has developed a structured programme of community relations, which focuses on the areas of consultation and communication; local employment; education excellence; health and wellbeing for work and charity. These community engagement activities are delivered within a specific geographical area to ensure the social and economic benefits of the Airport are shared with those who are most affected by its operation.
This CSR case study focuses on one aspect of London City Airport's community engagement strategy, "Take Off Into Work", an initiative that is designed to improve the transferable and job seeking skills of Newham residents, whilst also improving the quality of local candidates available for recruitment.
London City Airport is the only airport located within the city itself. This increases the potential of negative ramifications for local residents, making it essential for the company to ensure that the local population actually benefits from its presence.
The Airport is located in Newham, a comparatively deprived borough of East London; in 2008 it had an unemployment rate of 10.1% – nearly double the national average. The Airport recognised that its operations could be utilised to reduce the unemployment rate by taking practical steps to enable local residents to gain access to work.
London City Airport positions itself as a key business airport, with one of the fastest check-in times of any in London. In order to maintain its operations the company requires a high level of reliability and flexibility from its staff, which it feels can be enhanced through employment of local people. This is particularly pertinent in an industry which often demands unusual working hours.
In 2009, London City Airport launched the “Take Off into Work” scheme for long-term unemployed Newham residents as part of the Airport’s wider community engagement strategy. The programme has been developed and is delivered in collaboration with some of the Airport’s onsite employers, such as caterers and retailers.
Specifically the programme aims to address some of the problems encountered by airport employers when trying to recruit more local people, such as ‘soft skills’, lack of preparation and understanding of the airport work environment.
Additionally, the programme helps the company to reach its aspiration of employing 70% of its staff from within 5 miles of the site, with 35% of these from the Borough of Newham.
The “Take Off into Work” programme works to help local people into employment both within and outside of the company by developing their job skills and confidence, and raising their aspirations. The programme is run five times a year.
The programme consists of multiple components:
Training: Candidates enrolled in the programme begin by completing two weeks of London City Airport specific employability workshops to equip them with general competencies, as well as role specific skills necessary to begin work successfully at the Airport. This training covers everything required for candidates to obtain a full airside security pass, through to the skills necessary to be successful in the placement which follows. This is of particular importance when taking into account that 5% have never been employed, and 78% have been unemployed for six months or more.
Placement: After the initial training period, participants undertake a two to nine week long placement with one of the 55 employers based at the Airport. This enables candidates to develop skills and also to understand the specific demands of an airport environment, thereby increasing their chances of gaining employment at later stages. In addition, it allows participants to demonstrate their professional capacity, and gain a valuable reference from a respected employer.
Interview training and experience: During the programme, participants receive mentoring and support, including CV and interview preparation. Participants also undertake team volunteering challenges, which provide a unique opportunity to learn about the importance of working in a team in the airport environment while contributing to local community organisations through voluntary work.
Interviews at London City Airport: Following completion of the programme, participants are offered interview opportunities with London City Airport and the various employers onsite. Employment opportunities have been expanded through development of an Employers’ Forum for the diverse range of companies onsite.
Expanding opportunities: By completing the programme, participants increase their prospects and aspirations, even if unsuccessful at the final interview stage. The “Take Off into Work” scheme – although specifically developing skills relevant to the demands of an airport environment – builds the capacity, transferable skills and general confidence of individuals in a way that makes participants more eligible and comfortable in pursuing new and alternative employment opportunities.
The “Take Off into Work” programme has multiple corporate benefits.
Smooth running of the airport is essential to its success as a business service, and by employing locally London City Airport is better able to ensure the continuity of its operations in the event of issues such as traffic congestion or poor weather. By providing relevant training to local people, London City Airport also ensures that the skills it requires are available locally as the business grows and the workforce expands.
In 2009, 62 Newham residents from the programme gained employment (some at the airport and some in other local businesses). 45% of these candidates had been unemployed for a year or longer and 4% had never worked. Through the programme, more than 130 previously unemployed Newham residents have now gained employment and recruitment costs (estimated to be in excess of £1,000 per position) have been significantly reduced.
The company has received a number of awards for its work, including the Lord Mayors Dragon Award, and a Business Alliance Annual Volunteers Employment Champion Award. This recognition enhances both community relations and support, and more broadly the reputation of the company.
The programme also provides a further opportunity for the Airport to engage with its onsite businesses, as part of its Employers’ Forum (which meets quarterly to discuss employment, sustainability and other initiatives).
Why is it CSR?
The “Take Off into Work” programme provides both business and social benefits – namely it provides the airport and its onsite businesses local and flexible staff, adds to the wellbeing of the local area and provides employment for local people. In doing so, it contributes to the wider sustainability of London City Airport’s operations within East London.
For more information on London City Airport's community relations, please contact Elizabeth Hegarty.
© Article 13 – CSR Case Study Series, February 2011
Do you have any comments on this profile? Would you like your organisation to be profiled? For further information, please contact Article 13 on 020 8840 4450 or email@example.com.
Other sustainability case studies: