Linking opportunity and need

Alan McGregor, Andrea Glass and Alex McTier of the Training and Employment Research Unit (TERU) at the University of Glasgow explore LOAN, the process of maximising community benefits from physical regeneration.

Historically, the regeneration of our towns and cities has been led by physical redevelopment. Poor quality housing was demolished and replaced by social housing.  By the 1970s, however, it was widely recognised that this form of housing-led physical regeneration did not create sustainable communities. One of the frustrations in poorer communities was that major physical investment programmes did not provide directs benefit in terms of jobs and training opportunities.

Because of these frustrations, agencies have gradually begun to consider ways to generate greater community benefits.  This wider set of processes is often described by the term Linking Opportunity and Need (LOAN).

The Clyde Waterfront Partnership is working to support the physical regeneration of the Clyde corridor but, taking on the lessons of LOAN, is also encouraging links between the opportunities that spring from new developments and the needs of local communities for jobs and training.


What is LOAN?

LOAN involves bringing together opportunities and needs:

  • On the one hand, we have the opportunities generated by physical investments of one kind or another.
  • On the other hand, there are areas of and groups with need for employment and training.

The LOAN process is about finding the most effective ways to link those with needs into current and prospective opportunities.

Physical regeneration projects, such as Clyde Waterfront, generate two sets of opportunities:

  • Employment and training  - and indeed business development - opportunities are generated in the construction phase.  Find out more about Construction training opportunities.
  • End-use employment opportunities, particularly where the developments involve commercial and industrial investments.

Generating opportunities

The physical regeneration process generates opportunities which can:

  • Help individuals secure employment directly, through the jobs that are available both at the construction and end-use stages.
  • Create training opportunities of various kinds which hopefully then lead on to employment.
  • Provide work for local businesses, particularly through subcontracting arrangements of one kind or another, with subsequent positive employment knock-on effects for neighbouring communities and groups of the unemployed.
    For example, Clyde Waterfront is promoting the opportunities to maximize the community benefit of large scale public sector procurement exercises.

Targeting the benefits

LOAN is not about the overall volume of job generation but rather about targeting the benefits of the employment and training opportunities created on those who would not otherwise be likely to secure them.  This tends to mean:

  • Residents of deprived areas characterised by very high levels of worklessness.
  • Groups of the population with a high incidence of unemployment, and particularly long term unemployment.
  • Clyde Waterfront has gathered together information about the local agencies that support businesses in employing local staff.

Making the right links

The traditional weakness has been most clearly seen in relation to the lack of linkage between major physical regeneration projects and the employment and income generating opportunities available to the residents of regeneration areas.

  • Many major physical investment programmes have been located in/or close to deprived areas of various kinds.
  • At the same time, little or no employment legacy appears to remain once the developments have been completed.

It is these two things which has generated the interest in developing a much more effective LOAN approach.

Clyde Waterfront has gathered together some Employment case studies that demonstrate how links can be made successfully been physical regeneration projects and local employment needs.


Generating a better approach to LOAN

More recent studies suggest the following elements are critical:

1. Make an early start
Physical regeneration projects span a long period of time from early development, through planning consents, into more detailed planning applications, through to implementation and completion.  Likewise, raising the capacity of individuals and small businesses to take advantage of the construction and end-use aspects of major physical developments can also take a significant period of time.  An early start is required.


2. Exert influence on contractors and end-use employers
A key process is to try and change the behaviour of contractors and end-use employers more in the direction of achieving greater community benefit.  Essentially we are looking for these larger players to offer more employment and training opportunities to more disadvantaged groups within their travel to work areas, and also more business development opportunities to local SMEs.


3. Involve private sector where their leverage is greatest
The private sector has significant leverage and influence in a number of areas and this must be exploited to maximise community benefit through LOAN.


4. Build good quality relationships with private sector businesses
This relationship building process is absolutely critical for the development of an effective LOAN process.  It is an investment, but it is an investment that can pay off through significant repeat business from major private sector employers over the longer term as they seek to recruit labour on an ongoing basis due to natural turnover.


5. Keep things simple for businesses
Public sector agencies can simplify the process for businesses by appointing a lead agency and an account manager as a single point of contact.


6. Start early to build a supplier base
One of the more disappointing aspects of the LOAN process is the limited success to date in engaging with SMEs.  More systematic attempts are now being made to improve this by developing web-based portals that make available tendering information to a wide range of potential suppliers.


7. Engage early with regeneration community and unemployed groups
A long lead time is often necessary on the people side of the process too.  Longer term unemployed residents of our most disadvantaged communities will need to have their confidence built to go after those opportunities and their skillsets enhanced to have a good chance of securing them.

8. Support the unemployed and local SMEs
When planning a LOAN process there are a number of key questions about service delivery that need to be asked and answered.


  • Do we have the right services to help unemployed people into work and to link local SMEs to potential opportunities?
  • Do we have a significant service delivery capacity?  This is a key issue as both the employment and contracting opportunities are often squeezed into quite tight windows.
  • Do we have the right connections with both the residential and business communities to allow us to promote our services effectively to them?


9. Design and deliver an action plan for the LOAN process
It is not uncommon to have some kind of service mapping exercise and possibly a strategic framework. The essential element is an Action Plan which can guide the implementation of the LOAN process.

10. Design and deliver performance systems for the LOAN process
In association with an Action Plan, it is important to design and implement a system for measuring and managing the performance of the LOAN process once it takes off.  This can involve a number of different elements.

  • Monitoring the effectiveness of services to engage sufficient numbers of unemployed people on an employability pathway that leads to the opportunities developed through the physical investment programme.
  • Ensuring that sufficient skills training programmes link into the opportunities likely to become available.
  • Testing the penetration into the micro to small business community where the LOAN process involves supplier development.

11. Appoint a project manager and a small project management team to drive effective implementation
A well resourced project management component is essential for the effective implementation of LOAN to deal with the intense and complex nature of the work.

For more information on LOAN visit the jobs and training section of our website.

A report on good practice approaches across the UK, including case study examples, can be found in Linking Opportunity and Need: Maximising the Benefits from Physical Investment (Training and Employment Research Unit and Cambridge Policy Consultants - Published by the Scottish Government, 2008)

Alan McGregor, Andrea Glass and Alex McTier
Training and Employment Research Unit (TERU)
University of Glasgow
9 March 2010

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